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Mission accomplished: MIT NROTC freshmen complete orientation week

NROTC Fourth Class Midshipmen after their final drill competition and inspection.
NROTC Fourth Class Midshipmen after their final drill competition and inspection.

Prior to attending MIT freshman orientation, incoming students of the MIT Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program completed a week of ROTC orientation in Newport, R.I. Throughout the week, students received an introduction to the program and began preparing for their next four years of training.

Comprised of MIT, Harvard University, and Tufts University students, the MIT NROTC Unit is part of a larger consortium with Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern University. Orientation was conducted at Naval Station Newport, which has training facilities that are not available on campus and which allows students from all six consortium schools to come together in one location.

The 41 freshmen became familiar with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps traditions and learned skills they will need to succeed in NROTC — such as uniform preparation, military customs and courtesies, Navy and Marine Corps rank structure, time management, and study skills. The freshmen also received drill instruction, culminating in a competition at the end of orientation. “The change in the freshmen was incredible,” said Orientation Commanding Officer Midshipman Bridget McCoy, an MIT senior. “By the end of the week, you could really see the pride they took in getting their uniform right, marching in step, and being a part of a team.”

Although freshmen spent the majority of their orientation time in classes or on the field practicing drills, they also completed their first physical fitness evaluation and swim qualifications. They also had the opportunity to participate in the USS Buttercup damage-control trainer and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) bridge team simulator. The USS Buttercup, a wet trainer that simulates a ship-sinking scenario, provides a realistic learning environment for developing teamwork and communication skills. The LCS simulator allows participants a rare glimpse of the bridge of the Navy’s newest ship, and gives trainees an opportunity to command operations in a realistic environment.

At the conclusion of orientation, the new midshipmen were given fouled anchor insignia in a symbolic ceremony that represented all the hard work and effort they had put in during the week. “Orientation was an amazing week,” said MIT Midshipman Faith Huynh. “At first it was overwhelming and definitely challenging, but by the end we realized that everything the staff did was to make us better midshipmen, and ultimately better officers in the fleet. When we received our anchors on the last day, we all agreed it was one of the proudest moments of our lives.” Thanks to a successful orientation, these freshmen can begin their four-year journey in the NROTC program with the knowledge and confidence necessary to be successful midshipmen and college students.

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