Virginia Boy: An unorthodox journey | Academics

U.S. Navy midshipman Virginia Boy’s path might not have always been clear, but she has always known where she wanted it to lead.

Boy is in her second year at Iowa State, but she had to jump through more hoops than most to get to this point. The midshipman is here as a member of a program called STA-21, Seaman to Admiral-21, which allows a select few active duty sailors to go to college and learn to become officers in the Navy.

After graduating high school, Boy knew she wanted to work with nuclear science. The Navy offers many opportunities for this, as most of its vessels are nuclear powered, so Boy planned to join. But her initial hope failed to pan out.

“I was hoping for an ROTC scholarship, but I didn’t get picked up, so I shipped out for boot camp,” Boy said.

Boy proceeded to join the Navy and continued in the “traditional” sense. There, she learned about the STA-21 program, and made that her goal.

Each year, 50 sailors are selected to return to college to get an education and be trained to become an officer, 35 of whom are on a nuclear path.

The Navy pays $10,000 of tuition each year, and because the candidates remain on active duty, they still earn their wage.

Boy completed basic training and two six-month school programs with the Navy before being selected as part of STA-21, which led her to Iowa State for the 2015 school year. She is now one of three STA-21 participants at Iowa State.

“Iowa State was just added to the list of approved schools, and it was easy to apply and affordable,” Boy said. “I was also excited to be the first one here.”

Boy is majoring in electrical engineering and hopes to possibly earn a minor. The Navy gives her three years to complete her major, so she will graduate and commission in 2018. Due to the condensed time frame, Boy takes a full course schedule over the summers as well.

So far,…

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