Describe your path since graduating from Portsmouth Abbey School.
After graduating from Portsmouth Abbey in 2002, I attended Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. I found that my time there was a unique experience, but I can honestly say that I was not ready for that next chapter in my life. I struggled with school and decided by spring of 2003that I should move on from college. I worked odd jobs for a while and then tried school again at Valley Forge Military Academy and Tulane University. Unfortunately, that ended with the same result. In December of 2006, I decided to put my college education on hold and enlisted into the United States Navy where I was immediately deployed to Sasebo, Japan onboard the USS Essex.
While on the Essex, I served as an Aviation Boatswains Mate (Handler) for four years, becoming an expert in flight deck operations. Not only was I responsible for the mentoring of younger sailors, but I had the opportunity to interact and work with our allies around the world. It was a tremendous experience, I felt I had structure in my life, and a firm foundation on which to pursue my career.
I was honorably discharged in January of 2011 and decided to give college one more chance. I attended the University of Maryland in College Park, MD, majoring in a brand new field offered there, US Government and Homeland Security. This time, I focused on my work and graduated with honors in the spring of 2014. After receiving my diploma, I applied to numerous positions in the Washington D.C. area, which was a hotbed for contracting and acquisitions positions. A few weeks after graduating, I secured a position at the Department of Homeland Security working for the Coast Guard. I worked there for a year and then pursued a unique opportunity with Cydecor LLC, which had a relationship with the United States Navy.
Beginning in May of 2015, I accepted a position working with Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Small Arms and Combat Support at the Washington Navy Yard in DC. I immediately fit in, working with senior analysts to provide logistics and acquisition support to over 400,000 weapons and over 700 active military units. I really love this job!
On a personal note, in 2014, I married my fiancé Jennifer and we are eagerly expecting our first child, a baby boy this month!
How did your experience at Portsmouth Abbey School help you become the person & professional you are today?
My time at Portsmouth Abbey was an eye-opening experience, one that was exciting and, more importantly, educational in the process. It was here that I learned a little bit of everything while appreciating the insights and guidance from Coach Al Brown and Mr. Cliff Hobbins. Coach Brown was my lacrosse coach from my sophomore year onward. A legend in the world of lacrosse, Coach Brown expected that we give 100% every day in practice and on game-day. I remember countless nights memorizing basic plays, understanding transition offense, and growing together as a team. It was this sense of discipline and teamwork that has stuck with me during my entire career from the Navy to Cydecor!
Mr. Hobbins was also very influential in my life, as I always enjoyed his enthusiasm for teaching as well as his expertise in economics and world affairs. His simple, yet humorous, approach to teaching such a serious topic as “International Affairs and World History” was memorable. He was able to put into perspective that the world was indeed an enormous place! More importantly, he instilled in me a love and appreciation for our country and its role in international events. It was teachings like this that would motivate me to enlist into the Navy.
What is the best advice you could give to a current student?
Never back down. Portsmouth Abbey School offers students a unique experience. You will receive a quality education, gain incredible knowledge, and make lasting relationships that will remain with you for a lifetime. Live in this moment, embrace it, and enjoy it. It is a truly remarkable four years that sets you on a path toward success and gives you the option to pursue what you love the most in life.
If I had to take away one thing that I learned while at Portsmouth Abbey School, it’s that despite the rigorous academics, sports schedule, and personal hardships (I was a stutterer), keep pushing forward no matter what. Everyone encounters obstacles at some point, and at Portsmouth Abbey, you may experience some, but while there you will make friends, enjoy mentors, and learn in an environment that will help you grow personally. You will develop a sense of self-confidence where you can look into the mirror daily and say, “I can do anything.” It is this mentality, regardless of all others, that the Abbey has given me that remains the core of my principles to this day. Remember the words of Irish author and playwright Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”