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ASU's Naval ROTC program produces highly-qualified officers for the military

Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden awards Ensign Rachelle Edwards her surface warfare officer pin.

Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden awards Ensign Rachelle Edwards (left) her surface warfare officer pin.

December 08, 2015

For five years, the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Arizona State University has been turning midshipmen into successful leaders, earning a reputation for producing the highest qualified commissioned officers in the armed forces.  

The program’s success continues to flourish as a distinguished alumna and a currently serving student instructor achieved prestigious milestones in their respective fields in the Navy and Marine Corps.

“I am so proud of both of them — and all the folks in my program — because they stood up and volunteered to serve their country and are excelling,” said Capt. Philip Roos, commanding officer of ASU’s Naval ROTC program. “They’re pursuing opportunity and advancing their careers tremendously.”

Recent graduate Ensign Rachelle Edwards was a member of the first class of four-year commissionees produced by the university’s Naval ROTC program in 2014. After graduation, Edwards was assigned to the USS Iwo Jima to pursue her surface warfare officer qualification.

This past October, she successfully completed the qualification and earned her SWO pin, a gold device worn on her uniform similar to a pilot’s “wings.” This specialized milestone allows her to oversee shipboard engineering processes, routine opperations and the overall navigation and safety of the ship on behalf of the captain. It can take up to 18 months to complete the trainings required for qualification, but Edwards completed them in just 11 months.

The pinning ceremony made Edwards the first warfare-qualified officer ASU’s four-year Naval ROTC program has produced, a significant milestone in her career. 

“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Edwards. “ASU (Naval) ROTC gave me the opportunity to come in as a scared freshman and leave a confident adult … who is competent and capable enough to run a US war ship.”

The success of ASU’s Naval ROTC midshipmen relies heavily on the program’s experienced faculty and staff. The team collectively represents more than 160 years of military service and has the capability to develop confident leaders.

With 11 years of service and multiple promotions throughout his career, Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Garcia has been a tremendous asset to the university’s Naval ROTC program as the assistant marine officer instructor and student advisor, Roos said.

Garcia was recently selected for the Marine Corps’ enlisted to warrant officer program, a very competitive process to find the best qualified individuals for each military occupational specialty. The program allows for highly skilled enlisted non-commissioned officers to transition to the officer ranks and become technical experts in their field.

“That’s a huge testament to his leadership and his skill in developing subordinates … I think it is a wonderful statement for his abilities as a Marine,” Roos said. “He will make a superb officer.”

Garcia will be promoted to warrant officer on Feb. 1 in Quantico, Virginia. He said his dedication to achieving his goals was one of the key factors for his success, and he wants to pass along his determination and resiliency to his midshipmen and subordinates as he continues to grow as a leader in the Marine Corps.

“I believe my accomplishments are a direct reflection of the Marines who have served under me,” said Garcia. “Without extraordinary Marines, above and below me, I would not be where I am today.”

Arizona State University’s Naval ROTC program, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, serves as one of the largest commissioning programs in the nation. Upon completion of the program, the students, commissioned as ensigns or second lieutenants, leave with a strong sense of discipline, camaraderie, confidence and leadership — crucial skills for success in a civilian or military career. 

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