Members of NOAA Corps Basic Officer Training Class 128 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, including ENS Ololade N. Ajilore, ENS Hunter L. Brendel, ENS Sydney M. Catoire, ENS Sean E. Digre, ENS Christopher K. Dunn, ENS Garrison L. Grant, ENS Timothy J. Holland, ENS Patrick T. Lawler, ENS Vanessa C. Oquendo, ENS Brianna D. Pacheco, ENS Chelsea L. Parrish, ENS Lee T. Shoemaker, ENS Peter R. Siegenthaler, ENS Brandon W.H. Tao, ENS Collin H. Walker.
Ensign Ololade N. Ajilore
Ensign Ololade N. Ajilore reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin her basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA Corps, Ensign Ajilore worked with the Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as an Environmental Protection Specialist and Cartographic Technician. In her role, she has worked on beach nourishment projects with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, prepared relative environmental sensitivity analysis to be used for oil and gas leasing, compiled standard operating procedures for the office of renewable energy programs, and analyzed site assessment plans for environmental monitoring buoys.
Ensign Ajilore graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2015 with a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy and Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies. Ensign Ajilore has had an interest in ocean exploration and atmospheric science from young age; this encouraged her interest in the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Ajilore hopes to become a NOAA Diver and develop her leadership and operational skills. She is interested in serving aboard one of NOAA's oceanographic and atmospheric vessels. Ensign Ajilore is excited about the adventure that comes with being a NOAA Corps officer; her future professional goal is to be the Station Chief for the Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole. She enjoys traveling to learn about cultures from different parts of the world.
Ensign Hunter L. Brendel
Ensign Hunter L. Brendel reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Brendel worked as a maritime archaeologist in cultural resource management. Ensign Brendel was also a volunteer at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program.
Ensign Brendel graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Urban Studies. After attending an archaeological field school in Portugal, Ensign Brendel decided to pursue archaeology as a career path. Ensign Brendel went on to earn a Master of Maritime Archaeology degree in 2015 from Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. In 2014, Ensign Brendel moved to Florida to be a field school supervisor and field archaeologist for the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project (FCMAP) where he assisted in the survey, methodical excavation, artifact recovery, report writing, and presentations of the Storm Wreck, a 1782 Loyalist shipwreck off of St. Augustine. Ensign Brendel became interested in NOAA through the National Marine Sanctuaries program and Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER). He volunteered for the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary by archiving ROV footage, assisting in species identification, managing the media library, and helping with daily operations.
Ensign Brendel is a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) and American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) diver. He plans to use his background in archaeology to further NOAA's mission. Throughout his career with NOAA, Ensign Brendel wants to actively work in cultural resource management, reef management, and exploration.
Ensign Sydney M. Catoire
Ensign Sydney M. Catoire reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin her basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Catoire was working as a Marine Transportation Clerk with Military Sealift Command Atlantic serving in the Anti-Terrorism and Force Protection Department. In addition, she completed one year as a Traveling Leadership Consultant for Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity assisting collegians in education, officer training, and leadership development.
Ensign Catoire graduated from Old Dominion University in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics. Ensign Catoire had an interest in marine science since a young age, growing up on the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, always trying to restore the environment around her. Growing up in a military family, Ensign Catoire always had a passion for serving. She frequently volunteered for the Nature Conservancy and Chesapeake Bay foundation on oyster restoration, and at the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Center. NOAA Corps was the perfect opportunity to combine both passions for science and service.
Ensign Catoire's other areas of interest are being a PADI certified open water diver. In addition, she would like to sail upon a NOAA fisheries or hydrographic vessel upon completion of BOTC.
Ensign Sean E. Digre
Ensign Sean E. Digre reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Digre served 18 years in the U.S. Army. From 1997-2004 he served in the Army Reserves. In 2004 he entered active service, and attended a series of training courses which included Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC), Special Operations Combat Medic Course (SOCOM), and Special Forces Medical Sergeant Course (SFMS). In 2008 he was assigned to 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis Washington as Special Forces Medical Sergeant and Combat Diver. He served there until 2012. While on active duty he conducted training exercises in India and Thailand, and completed two Combat Tours to Afghanistan and the Philippines where he earned his Combat Infantry Badge and two Bronze Stars, one for Valor. In 2012, he transferred to 19th Special Forces Group as a Senior Medical Sergeant, where he served until 2015.
Ensign Digre grew up in a small beach town in Northern California where he cultivated an affinity for the oceans. He graduated from the University of Washington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. While attending school he participated in several research cruises aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson and R/V Clifford A. Barnes. His thesis work was Zooplankton community structure in response to turbulent flow over a sill in Nootka Sound. Ensign Digre is also a graduate of the Divers Institute of Technology, where he received his Entry Level Diver/Tender (ADCI), and Unrestricted Surface Supplied Diver Certification (DCBC).
Ensign Digre's other areas of expertise include being a NAUI certified Master Diver, Special Forces Dive Medical Technician (DMT), Navy Special Operations Diver Supervisor, and Kirby Morgan Hat Operator. Ensign Digre spends his free time as a volunteer diver at the Seattle Aquarium, and hopes to continue his work at his next duty station. Ensign Digre is passionate about his work, and excited at the opportunity to use his Oceanography degree in service of his country. His desire is to work on a NOAA Fisheries vessel, and use his experience in diving and medicine to participate in NOAA diving, small boat operations and their medical program.
Ensign Christopher K. Dunn
Ensign Christopher K. Dunn reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Dunn was a United States Peace Corps Volunteer. He was assigned to Uganda, East Africa for two years. At his post he worked as an Education Specialist in primary and post-secondary schools. He also led the effort to establish local language spelling bees across northern Uganda.
Ensign Dunn graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Parkside in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. Throughout his life, Ensign Dunn has had a dual passion for geography and biology. His undergraduate research focused on the introduction of wind farms in Lake Michigan using NOAA GIS data. Due to his research in Toronto, he has been published as an author in several papers on the childhood malady, Farber's disease.
Ensign Dunn is passionate about being a part of the frontier operations for the NOAA Corps. His interest in GIS and exploration has led him to seriously consider serving aboard the hydrographic vessel, NOAA Ship Fairweather, in Alaska. He also has a fascination for flight and has logged 70 hours of flight time in single engine planes. If the needs of the service required more pilots, Ensign Dunn would be eager to serve.
Ensign Garrison L. Grant
Ensign Garrison L. Grant reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to Joining NOAA, Ensign Grant was a biologist working for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Shellfisheries. Prior to working for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Shellfisheries he served as Second Mate/Boatswain aboard the Tall Ship Lynx.
Ensign Grant graduated from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science with a focus in Marine Biology. Ensign Grant has always been drawn to the water and driven to find what it holds. It is this sense of discovery and adventure as well as a desire to serve his county that led him to the NOAA Commissioned Corps.
Ensign Grant also holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100 Ton Inland Master's/Near Coastal Mate's License with Sailing and Towing Endorsements. He is also a NAUI Advanced Open Water diver with most of his experience in low visibility and wreck dives. He is determined to become a NOAA Working Diver and hopes to sail on hydrographic or fisheries vessel to continue to uncover what lies beneath the ocean's surface.
Ensign Timothy J. Holland
Ensign Timothy J. Holland reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Holland was a biomedical flight controller for the International Space Station at the NASA Johnson Space Center.
Ensign Holland graduated from Syracuse University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, where he was a member of the NCAA Division I swim team. He received his Masters of Science in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, where he focused on space suit design. Ensign Holland has had an interest in exploration since a young age. He has held previous jobs with NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center as a research associate and Johnson Space Center as a research assistant. He has been a volunteer firefighter at Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Company 23 in Lawrenceville, NJ, a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout, a Houston Zoo volunteer and an ocean lifeguard for the Margate City Beach Patrol.
Ensign Holland holds a PADI advanced Open Water Diver certification, and an American Sailing Association Basic Keelboat 101 certification. He is interested in pursuing an assignment on an oceanographic or fisheries research vessel during his first sea assignment. He is also very interested in entering the NOAA dive program, Medical Person in Charge training and exploring Antarctica on his first land assignment. His primary recreational interests include mountaineering, SCUBA diving, triathlons, and skiing.
Ensign Patrick T. Lawler
Ensign Patrick T. Lawler reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Lawler was a full time student.
Ensign Lawler graduated from The Citadel Military College of South Carolina in 2016 with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. His passion and eagerness for knowledge about the ocean started at a young age, but was reinforced when he spent time in South Africa interning at a shark conservatory. In his desire to serve others, his zeal for adventure, and his fanaticism for discovery, he was drawn to the NOAA Commissioned Corps.
Ensign Lawler is driven to go underway on a hydrographic or fisheries vessel and to never stop learning from the vast ocean. Also, he has a basic open water diving license that he aspires to further advance and become a NOAA Diver.
Ensign Vanessa C. Oquendo
Ensign Vanessa C. Oquendo began her basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps at the NOAA Corps Training Center on 27 July, 2016. Ensign Oquendo previously worked as a program technician in the Division of Subsistence at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Additionally, she worked as a fitness instructor and manager on duty for a private gym in Anchorage, Alaska.
Ensign Oquendo earned a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology in 2007 from the University of Florida, and she earned a Master of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Science with an emphasis in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Management in 2010 from Mississippi State University. Ensign Oquendo has a strong interest in facilitating positive and effective connections between diverse people and natural resources management. She has experience in establishing that connection while working with youth summer camps through Resources for an Inclusive Future at Mississippi State University, working in administration with the National Park Service in Alaska, and as a program technician at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game assisting with subsistence household survey research. Ensign Oquendo desires to bring her sociological experience to the scientific study of ocean phenomena and to influence ocean resources policies by establishing effective and positive working relationships with ship personnel and other stakeholders.
Ensign Oquendo is also fluent in Spanish, has a specialized skill set in sociological survey design and implementation, and holds a NAUI SCUBA certification.
Ensign Brianna D. Pacheco
Ensign Brianna D. Pacheco reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin her basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Pacheco was enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. She served as a Seaman aboard USCGC Monomoy and USCGC Rush.
Ensign Pacheco graduated from Cedar Crest College in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. While working in the United States Coast Guard, Ensign Pacheco learned of the NOAA Corps and its unique mission set. She was instantly attracted to NOAA because of its combined service to the United States and its scientific missions.
Ensign Pacheco's primary recreational interests include jogging, playing tennis, hiking, snorkeling, traveling, and anything outdoors. She is excited for her new career in the NOAA Commissioned Corps and the opportunity to develop her leadership and operational skills. Although needs of the service prevail, she is interested in serving on either an oceanographic or fisheries vessel, and becoming a part of the NOAA dive program. She is looking forward to serving her country, contributing to the scientific community, and starting a new adventure with the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Chelsea L. Parrish
Ensign Chelsea L. Parrish reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin her basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Parrish was a graduate student at Savannah State University in Savannah, GA studying marine science. She was also a volunteer for the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and the Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project in Savannah, GA.
Ensign Parrish graduated from Savannah State University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. While attending graduate school, Ensign Parrish attended several NOAA related conferences where she learned about the NOAA Corps and its pivotal role in the ocean and atmosphere sciences. Ensign Parrish holds a master's degree in Marine Science from Savannah State University (2016). Her research focused on determining trace element and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) concentrations in sediment from the Savannah River in Savannah, GA. Specifically, she studied how much anthropogenic input still remained in dredged sediments compared to a non-industrially influenced river. She assisted a local 6th grade Earth Science class with ocean literacy implementation in the classroom as a National Science Foundation (NSF) GK-12 Fellow for two years. During this time, she published an educational (K-12) science activity with the journal, Science Activities. Ensign Parrish is a member of the Geological Society of America, American Fisheries Society, National Biological Honor Society—Beta, Beta, Beta, Golden Key International Honour Society, and a charter member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Ensign Parrish hopes to continue her work on a fisheries or oceanographic vessel, participate in the NOAA dive program and small boat operations, and become a Medical Person in Charge (MPIC). She is a PADI certified open-water SCUBA diver and hopes to garner more certifications. Her primary recreation interests include playing softball, kickboxing, hiking, SCUBA diving, and hanging a hammock wherever it may go. Ensign Parrish is looking forward to serving her country and contributing to science and ocean exploration. She is thrilled to start her new career in the NOAA Commissioned Corps wherever they may require her skills.
Ensign Lee T. Shoemaker
Ensign Lee T. Shoemaker reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Shoemaker spent 12 years in the U.S. Navy, most recently working on staff for Commander, Navy Region Northwest in Bangor, WA in the operations department. From 2010-2014, he served as a Surface Warfare Officer and Navigator aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Farragut stationed in Jacksonville, FL. His previous assignments include NROTC Unit New York City and the guided missile destroyer USS Shoup stationed in Everett, WA.
Ensign Shoemaker graduated from the State University of New York Maritime College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Environmental Science with a concentration in Meteorology and Oceanography. He has had an interest in science and the environment for years and has participated in field volunteer work with NOAA Marine Sanctuaries and the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. In 2016 he completed the Postgraduate Certificate Program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at Penn State University.
Ensign Shoemaker is an outdoors and travel enthusiast. He enjoys hiking, running, and cycling and is a multi-marathoner. He aspires to visit all of the national parks and holds a NAUI Open Water Diver certification. He looks forward to putting his nautical skills to use in support of NOAA's environmental stewardship mission on any of NOAA's advanced research or survey platforms.
Ensign Peter R. Siegenthaler
Ensign Peter R. Siegenthaler reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Siegenthaler worked in California's commercial fishing industry. Prior to working in the fishing industry Ensign Siegenthaler was a backcountry snowmobile guide and construction project manager.
Ensign Siegenthaler graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. Having a lifelong interest in the natural sciences and the environment, Ensign Siegenthaler was drawn to the NOAA Corps to pursue a career where he could contribute from an operational standpoint. Ensign Siegenthaler hopes to begin his career on a hydrographic survey vessel.
Ensign Brandon W. H. Tao
Ensign Brandon W. H. Tao reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Tao was a Policy Analyst intern with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. He researched future management plans for the sanctuary and traveled to the surrounding Hawaiian Islands to collect data on the environmental and socioeconomic impacts due to management of the protected waters. Prior to working for the sanctuary he was a student scientist on a cetacean research vessel in San Remo, Italy.
Ensign Tao graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hawaii Pacific University in 2015 with a degree in Environmental Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Policy. His volunteer experiences ranged from studying primates in Costa Rica to doing outreach for the Honolulu Zoo. These experiences cultivated his passion for the environment. During his studies in Hawaii, he had the chance to volunteer with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team as well as the sanctuary. Ensign Tao had great experiences working with NOAA which ultimately resulted in him joining the NOAA Corps.
Ensign Tao enjoys all water sports, especially ocean kayaking and snorkeling. He hopes to work on one of the NOAA ships that study fisheries, coral reefs, and marine mammals. Ensign Tao is excited for the privilege to facilitate scientific discovery and for his next adventure as a NOAA Commissioned Officer.
Ensign Collin H. Walker
Ensign Collin H. Walker reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 27 July, 2016 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining NOAA, Ensign Walker volunteered with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary as a Division Staff Officer - Communication Services, while working as a Project Coordinator at Trekk Design Group, a Civil Engineering firm in Kansas City, MO specializing in water resource management. Prior to working in the civil engineering field he spent over 12 years in the erosion control field.
Ensign Walker earned a Postgraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems and Cartography from Penn State University in 2015, as a capstone project he created a world map of large whale strikes. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Anthropology and Small Business Leadership. Ensign Walker developed a lifelong interest in exploring and conserving the natural world around us after meeting Jacques Cousteau at a young age.
Ensign Walker is a PADI certified open water diver and enjoys SCUBA diving, snorkeling, swimming, running, hiking, cycling, photography, and sailing. Ensign Walker's primary interest is sailing aboard a hydrographic survey vessel. He is thrilled to serve his country in uniform, and continue to make a positive difference in his country and world.