Anchors aweigh: Stanford graduates commissioned as naval officers

Acosta and Brown
Lourdes Acosta and Katharina Brown (Courtesy Katharina Brown)

One day after graduating from Stanford with bachelor’s degrees, LOURDES ACOSTA and KATHARINA BROWN celebrated their completion of the Naval ROTC program and their commissioning as naval ensigns at a ceremony in the Tresidder Oak Lounge.

The two were lauded for their perseverance during their four years as Stanford students and ROTC participants. Brown and Acosta had to travel to UC Berkeley several days a week to take such Naval ROTC classes as drills, physical training and naval science.

Among the 60 or so people attending Monday’s commissioning ceremony was PROVOST PERSIS DRELL, who taught Acosta. Also in attendance were two 1974 Stanford alumni who were members of the last naval cohort to graduate when ROTC was officially recognized at Stanford.

Today, Stanford has cross-enrollment agreements for ROTC with the Navy and Marine Corps program at UC Berkeley, the Army ROTC program at Santa Clara University and the Air Force ROTC program at San Jose State University. In 2011, the Stanford Faculty Senate approved a process for inviting ROTC back to campus after a nearly 40-year absence.

Acosta, who is from San Diego, on Sunday received her bachelor’s degree in product design from the School of Engineering.

“I’ve always wanted to be in the Navy, ever since I was a kid.” Acosta said. “I just felt this call to join.”

She’s proudly following in the footsteps of her parents, both of whom served in the Navy. Her mom and dad attended Monday’s ceremony, as did her older brother, who is also a Stanford alum. She said part of what drew her to the Farm was the opportunity to acquire military training while also receiving a quality education.

“I really wanted to come to Stanford when I found out that they had an ROTC program,” she said. “I was like, ‘that’s what I want to do!’”

Acosta will soon relocate to Pensacola, Florida, to be a student naval flight officer.

Brown hails from Quincy, Massachusetts, received her bachelor’s degree in computer science on Sunday and said she’s looking forward to the next chapter of her life with the Navy.

“I’m going to North Carolina to attend nuclear power school for six months,” she said.

As for her long-term goals, she hasn’t yet pinpointed an exact career, but thinks she may return to the classroom at some point.

“I would like to go to graduate school someday,” said Brown, who was joined by her parents and brother. “I’m not sure if [that will be] through the Navy or somewhere else, but that’s something I’d like to pursue.”