My role as a Power Plant Operator in the Navy has also given me a sense of purpose in life. After high school, I spent some time at Western Michigan University, but I just wasn’t finding my direction. I decided to take the ASVAB test. I ended up scoring very well on it so the Navy recruiter encouraged me to look into the nuclear training program, one of the most rigorous training programs in the Navy.
I attended the Navy’s Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C. Although I’ve never studied so much, I really enjoyed learning the material. It prepared me well for my prototype tour—a 6-month operational program on a submarine where I learned to operate the equipment that runs the ship.
After my prototype tour, I stayed on in Charleston to teach ship mechanics how to operate a nuclear power plant. Then, I moved to Norfolk, VA, to work on the Dwight D. Eisenhower naval carrier. In my first role, I worked in the propulsion plant. I helped clean, maintain, and preserve the ship’s power supply components, such as its steam generators. I also kept studying to learn about a new mechanical system or theoretical operation.
Today, I have a supervisory job as Leading Petty Officer in a division of over 100 people. I coordinate the planned maintenance and corrective maintenance of the mechanical systems that help run the ship. These systems produce propulsion electricity and distilled water, and provide heating for food among other things. I also write up the watch bills (schedules for the mechanics) and rotate mechanics through different jobs.
My work as Leading Petty Officer has also allowed me to improve my managerial and people skills. I feel my best when my guys achieve their goals, but I also get satisfaction from helping them through their tough times. The Navy is like a big family. I know that I need to take good care of this family for the ship to function at its best.