Alum talks Navy experience


submitted by Meghan O'Malley

Meghan O’Malley graduated class of USNA 2020 and plans to join the Navy.

Yness Martinez, Staff Reporter


The days were grueling and the nights weren’t long enough, but the hard work was worth it for her. 2016 Vandegrift alum Meghan O’Malley attended the United States Naval Academy on a tennis scholarship, and graduated back in May. She is now training to be an officer of a Navy destroyer in Norfolk, Virginia. 

“I knew I wanted to go into the Navy pretty early on,” O’Malley said. “At other colleges, I didn’t feel like I could see myself there, my heart wasn’t there.”

Her days at the USNA were long and packed. She recalls her first summer before freshman year, called plebe year for military academies. It had started in June, where she hit the ground running.

“We would work out every morning,” O’Malley said. “We shot weapons, and did obstacle courses; different things that would bring us together when the year started.”

In addition to physical training, she had weekend trainings on general information about Naval service.

“We had professional knowledge training, and we would take a test on it every week,” O’Malley said. “That’s just on basic information.”

From the time she had her first unofficial visit to the USNA, saw the students and community, she knew she wanted to be among the ranks.

“I liked the campus, I liked the girls on the team,” O’Malley said. “I really liked the dynamic of the companies, everyone seemed super close.”

Her freshman year was the hardest. Her schedule included being up for workouts from 5:30 to 6:30 in the morning, and then going to class.

“I had class from about 7:55 to 3:30,” O’Malley said. “If you’re on a sports team you had practice from 3:45 to 7:00 [p.m.]. Then you would just study and repeat the cycle.”

When seeing how Hollywood portrays the U.S. services in movies like ‘Top Gun,’ it’s common to have misconceptions about what being in service is really like.

“I hadn’t expected it to be so academically hard,” O’Malley said. “It was so completely different, and it was a wake up call for me.”

A part of her education that led to her desire to be on the sea was the required time all plebe students had to spend aboard a ship.

“Everyone has to do a summer Youngster Cruise,” O’Malley said. “For just a month, and you do different training to decide what position you want to be in.”

From there she decided she enjoyed sailing. This led her to pursue and hold leadership positions for sailing training, and take any other opportunities she found to get out on the ocean.

“All my summer training was on ships,” O’Malley said. “Because I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

After she graduated in the USNA class of 2020, she turned to further her experience on a Navy destroyer in Naval Station Norfolk, where she is currently working to get her Surface Warfare pin.

“It’s different training based on your job,” O’Malley said. “But everyone has to complete the Basic Division Officer Course, or BDOC.”

BDOC is a 10 week long course designed for anyone working to serve on a Navy ship. It teaches the basics of being a Surface Warfare Officer, who operates the ship and crew, which she recently completed.

“I’m in the engineering department right now,” O’Malley said. “I’m the Main Propulsion Officer, and I’m taking a course on fuels and oil.”

A course consisting of information on refueling at sea, testing fuel, and knowing which fuels to use. One of the many things she needs to learn to get to her goal.

“I constantly have to remind myself why I wanted to do this,” O’Malley said. “The bad days are pretty bad, but the good days are amazing. I think of all the amazing things that have led me to this point.”