GREAT LAKES, Ill. -- The Seaman-to-Admiral (STA-21) commissioning program, which provides an opportunity for qualified Sailors to receive college educations and Navy commissions, is soliciting applications for fiscal year 2014, as announced in NAVADMIN 102/13 April 23. The deadline for submitting application packages is July 1. "We are proud of the STA-21 program and the amazing Sailors who receive their commissions through it," said Rear Adm. Dee Mewbourne, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC). "STA-21 officer candidates and their families benefit from the educational opportunity afforded them at our nation's premier universities. Completing their degree in 36 months, they remain on active duty with full pay and allowances and the Navy pays up to $10,000 per year in support of their tuition, fees and books. STA-21 is truly an investment in Sailors as it shapes our officer corps of the future." Application packages must be postmarked on or before the July 1 deadline date. Early submission is preferred, as this will allow feedback to the Sailor for submission of missing or illegible documents. The deadline for submission of additional documentation to an applicant's package is August 1. Before earning their degrees, STA-21 applicants must attend the Naval Science Institute (NSI) course at Officer Training Command (OTC), Naval Station Newport, R.I., prior to beginning college studies at an NROTC-affiliated college or university.
STA-21/NSI is an eight-week course of intense officer preparation and indoctrination. Course enrollment is timed to allow college entrance during summer or fall semesters/quarters after selection. "I assessed what I could do in my rate as a Machinist's Mate compared to what I could do as an officer and I felt I could contribute the most to the Navy by joining the officer ranks," said Officer Candidate and former Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Joseph Page, 21, from Indianapolis. "I thought becoming an officer would maximize my qualities and my potential and that's how I could give the most to the Navy." Page, who came from Nuclear Prototype School in Charleston, S. C., plans on attending the Citadel Military College in Charleston and then join the Navy's submarine community.
"This has been a great learning experience for me," said Page. I haven't been out in the fleet yet but STA-21 and NSI has been a great place to gather information from those in my class that came from the fleet. I received a lot of valuable input from my classmates and received a feel for what I'll need to do once I get to the fleet as an officer." Both Page and Electronics Technician 3rd Class and Officer Candidate Brianna Smith, 22, from Erie, Pa., were put in charge of their class of 50 officer candidates. "It was an amazing opportunity and has been a great experience and will help prepare us for what's to come," said Smith. "You get your college education while learning about leadership roles."
Smith plans on attending North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., and then looks to be a Nuclear Warfare Officer on a ship or submarine out of Naval Station Norfolk, Va. Smith also attended Nuclear Prototype School but in Ballston Spa, N. Y., before attending STA-21/NSI in Newport.
The STA-21 program benefits Sailors as well as the Navy. The average candidate has at least two years and in most cases more than four years of observed performance which assists in the process of selecting the most qualified Sailors to receive a commission. Additionally, STA-21 candidates are on average older than most midshipmen, bringing a maturity directly reflected in the more than 90 percent completion rate STA-21 program candidates boast. Many Sailors involved in the STA-21 program already have some college credit, and some candidates finish ahead of the three years allotted to earn a degree. "Students reporting for NSI should expect an intense academic program," said Lt. Jason Gilmore, assistant operations officer and head of this year's STA-21/NSI class. "In eight short weeks they will complete six curriculum modules. It would be real easy for a student to fall behind if they don't arrive ready to hit the books. Our intent at NSI is not only to provide these students with a solid basis in Naval Science, but to also establish a foundation of good study habits in an intense academic environment as these students adjust from life in the fleet to life at a University. In the STA-21 program, as it is in many competitive selection processes, it is often a candidate's extra efforts which can result in selection." Lt. Justin Neff, a division officer and NSI instructor at OTC, called the the STA-21 program "an awesome opportunity for motivated Sailors that are looking to get an education, and advance their career."
Neff, who was in one of the first STA-21 class at OTC Newport in March 2003 and commissioned after graduating from Old Dominion University in May 2006 also said, "One of the best things about STA-21 is that it is your job to go to school. You don't have to worry about pay or housing or standing watches on a ship or sub. You go to school and in three years (or less) you can earn your degree and a commission."
Neff was a Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) 1st Class when he applied for STA-21.
"I wanted to get the most out of my Navy career and for me, Seaman-to-Admiral was the best way to go," said Neff. "STA-21 has opened the door for a wealth of opportunities for me." Reporting seniors who feel they have a Sailor with the potential to be selected by STA-21 should comment on their leadership skills and potential in their performance evaluations early in their career. These comments are highly regarded by the boards, even in junior Sailors who's time on board, time in grade or peer ranking will not allow their evaluations to be fully consistent with the comments.
Selectees will be announced by a NAVADMIN in October 2013. Questions concerning this program should be directed to command career counselors or to the NSTC Officer Development directorate at (850) 452-9563. Headquartered on Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., Mewbourne and NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) on Naval Station Newport, R.I., Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp, at Great Lakes, Ill., and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.