Spring 2017

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Prepared for Duty

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NROTC senior Lauren Kearney prepares for career as a ‘Navy nuke.’

Lauren Kearney
Lauren Kearney will commission into the U.S. Navy as an ensign after she graduates in June.

When Lauren Kearney heard she had been recommended by her Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit to introduce Rear Adm. Lisa Franchetti ’85 at the Alumnae Awards, she was both humbled and a bit daunted. “It was like introducing a celebrity,” says Kearney, a senior materials science and engineering major and leader in her unit.

She will commission as an ensign into the U.S. Navy after graduation, more than 30 years after Franchetti, the Alumnae Award winner, did the same. Over that span, women have taken on a more significant role in the armed forces. “When she first went into the military, females weren’t allowed on warships,” Kearney says. Franchetti would go on to serve as the commanding officer of a warship. “You can’t let the short-term vision preclude the long-term vision,” Kearney adds.

Always certain she wanted to join the Navy, Kearney set her sights on the Naval Academy as a high school senior in Morrison, Colo. A recruiter suggested she apply for the NROTC program as well, and when she ended up being accepted by Northwestern but not the academy, her dream took a different path. In the last four years, Kearney has participated in Relay for Life and the honor society Phi Sigma Pi. She’s also worked as a member of Professor David Dunand’s SpaceICE microgravity research group.

After graduation Kearney will serve as a “Navy nuke,” working on a warship and eventually on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. She will spend eight years as an officer.