Navy Visibility Day: Investing Into The Future Leaders
by U.S. Petty Officer 1st Class Diana Quinlan
January 15, 2020
On the unusually warm day in late October 2019, when the trees, just turned gold and red, camouflaged the brickwork of some century-old campus buildings, Lincoln University students did not expect to see several military members, in Navy service dress uniforms, walking through their alma mater.
While there are students with a military background attending the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), located in the quiet, rural area outside the town of Oxford, Pennsylvania, the majority of students are not accustomed to a military presence, nor do they have an insight to what service members do.
October 30, 2019 - Lt. Cmdr. Lennox Smith, left, from Upper Darby, Pa., and Lt. Charles Banks, from Rochester, N.Y., both assigned to Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia, tour Lincoln University grounds during Navy Visibility Day. Navy Visibility Day is a Navy Recruiting Command proprietary recruitment program designed specifically for the purpose of building long-lasting relationships with universities and colleges, attracting the brightest, diverse college prospects, and showcasing opportunities for both military and civilian careers. Placing emphasis on STEM, this event teaches leadership, features guest speakers and provides networking opportunities with local Navy recruiters. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Diana Quinlan)
On this October day, officers and enlisted Sailors, assigned to Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia and Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, walked briskly towards the career development office to participate in a two-day Navy familiarization event, or Navy Visibility Day.
Navy Visibility Day is an NRC recruitment program designed specifically for the purpose of building long-lasting relationships with universities and colleges, attracting the brightest, most diverse college prospects and showcasing opportunities for both military and civilian careers. Placing an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), NVD teaches leadership, features guest speakers from the tech world, and provides networking opportunities with local Navy recruiters and other respective naval divisions.
“This two-day event is designed to broaden the horizons of our student body. Two-thirds of our students are the first generation in their family to go to college, and may not necessarily be well acquainted with any branch of military, beyond just enlisting in, but there is a lot more to the military, and this is what I am hoping the students get from these learning sessions,” said Ralph Simpson, director for the Office of Career Development at LU. “Looking at the U.S. Navy visitation program, our primary focus is on the scholarships to medical schools, JAG [Judge Advocate General] and law programs, careers in technology and other STEM-related fields – we simply could not miss the opportunity for our students to meet with the Navy on campus.”
Building relationships with the local community and school, educating students on the multitude of opportunities and scholarships offered through the Navy, and promoting and celebrating diversity were some of the key reasons why Sailors joined LU staff for two days full of educational opportunities. In the span of these days, Sailors and officers attended and presented during classes such as Computer Security, Biochemistry, Engineering, Law, Legal Philosophy and Digital Media Strategies; met with professors and staff; and held informational sessions with the students. They also had the honor of meeting with Dr. Brenda Allen, president of LU.
“As part of this program we look at and try to bridge the high priority needs of the Navy with academic majors Lincoln has that can meet those needs,” explained Simpson, whose father also served in the Navy aboard the USS Coral Sea (CV 43) during the Vietnam War as Fire Control Technician (Surface) 2nd Class [Fire Controllman in today’s Navy]. “When you factor in that the majority of our students are first in their families to attend the college, it is our job to expand their horizon, as most of them will hear for the first time about scholarships, internships, career and employment opportunities before and after graduation.”
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class David Cooley, medical officer recruiter assigned to NRD Philadelphia, echoed the importance of bridging the informational gap between students and the opportunities that the Navy has to offer.
October 29, 2019 - Hospital Corpsman 1st Class David Cooley, from New York, assigned to Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia, speaks to students at Lincoln University, as Lt. Cmdr. Lennox Smith observes during Navy Visibility Day. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Diana Quinlan)
“The relationships that we are able to build with this university allows us to present pertinent information to the students,” said Cooley. “It allows students to make informed decisions when it comes to their future and how these decisions will affect their lives. If they do not have that information they may be left wondering, never fulfilling their potential.”
According to Chief Navy Counselor Kelly Ringaman, assigned to CNRC, one of the reasons LU was selected as part of the outreach is the continuous effort to diversify the Navy. The university holds the legacy of its famous graduate, the first African American woman to hold the rank of Rear Admiral - Lillian Elaine Fishburne. Promoting students’ understanding of the opportunities before them, and in this case, emphasizing and celebrating achievements of their fellow alumna, could help uncover their interest in becoming future naval leaders.
“The outcome of this event is to have personal interest development in the Navy and to eventually have students join the Navy as enlisted or officers,” said Ringaman. “But we are also here to establish the initial relationships, and keep these relationships going beyond the recruiting efforts of today into the future.”
Lt. Cmdr. Lennox Smith, assigned to NRD Philadelphia, emphasized that meeting with these students face-to-face helps promote interest and dispel any preconceived notion of the military, example being when asked in class whether students knew what Sailors do, the majority did not have the answer.
“Personal contact does go a long way; it leaves lasting impression in the minds of people you talk to, you are there to inform and explain what they want to know. Sometimes they don’t even think about the Navy as a potential future until they meet a service member and have the opportunity to discuss what do we actually do,” explained Smith. “Building these relationships, being on campus and meeting the students is a reward in itself. They may not be ready to join today, but next year we may, and have in the past, get a call or an email saying: ‘I remember you spoke to me last year, I am ready to serve now’.”
Established in 1854, Lincoln University is a Historically Black College and University, educating and empowering students to lead their communities and change the world. LU is committed to maintaining a nurturing and stimulating environment for learning, teaching, research, and creative expression for a diverse student body, faculty and workforce.
NRD Philadelphia encompasses regions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, providing recruiting services from more than 30 recruiting stations with the overall goal of attracting the highest quality candidates to ensure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
NRC consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 17 Navy Recruiting Districts and nine Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,330 recruiting stations across the world.
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