Olivia Rhodes ’19 Commissioned as Navy Officer

I’m Olivia, a former member and officer of the Princeton Charter Club. While a student, I was a civil engineering major, Liquid Assets Manager, and midshipman in Navy ROTC. Upon graduating with Princeton’s Class of ‘19, I commissioned as an Ensign (Surface Warfare Officer) in the United States Navy.

In February I had the great honor of selecting my ship, the U.S.S. Stout (DDG 55), a destroyer based out of Norfolk, VA. I’ve gotten to know this base rather well while doing my senior thesis, which is on sea level rise affecting Naval Station Norfolk. My first tour will last 30 months out of my five-year commitment.

Princeton’s Navy ROTC was brought back on campus a year before I came to Princeton, after a hiatus since the 70’s (Army ROTC has continuously been on campus since 1919, celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and maintaining the longest consecutive ROTC program among any Ivy League university). Although the Navy ROTC has to commute to Rutgers, I enjoyed being part of such a dedicated unit – there are about ten Princeton midshipmen in a unit of sixty. I’ve been set on Navy for a while; my parents are both captains and I have two brothers at/recently graduated from the Naval Academy. 

To give you an idea of what NROTC at Princeton was like, my schedule consisted of waking up at 0430 M/W/F to go to Rutgers (our cross-town unit) to conduct physical training, naval science class, and drill. We also do fun things, such as competing in drill competitions and cheering on Princeton at Veteran’s Day football games. The mornings were early and the nights were late – especially as a LAM! – but I have had such a good support network at Charter that the weeks flew by. 

During the last few summers, I have gone underway on ships for “summer cruises” – an opportunity to shadow enlisted and officers on a ship. I had two fantastic cruises – the U.S.S. Port Royal (CG 73) in Pearl Harbor, and the U.S.S. Donald Cook (DDG 75) based out of Rota, Spain. These were extremely influential in my decision to pursue Surface Warfare and in choosing a Destroyer, with their into-the-action mission sets.

Although I’m excited for the adventure that lies ahead, I’ll greatly miss the fun I’ve had at Charter and the fantastic members and alumni I have interacted with here. I’ll be stationed at my ROTC unit in Rutgers over the summer before I’m sent to shiphandling school (BDOC) in September, and report to my ship in November. I can’t wait to come back to Reunions to see old friends and make many new ones. To Charter, Fair Winds and Following Seas! Huzzah!

3 thoughts on “Olivia Rhodes ’19 Commissioned as Navy Officer

  • June 19, 2019 at 5:29 am

    Hi Olivia
    Congratulations on your NROTC Commission at Princeton with best of luck in your career as a Line Officer. We share a similar background into Navy service although 50 years apart, namely Princeton, Charter Club, and at least 3 years of service. I was drafted in 1967 during the Vietnam War, left teaching English and Coaching Lacrosse at Deerfield Academy, and later commissioned in Newport, RI before joining Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 23, which returned from a 6 month tour in “Nam”.

    To this day, I am proud to have serviced in the Navy and value my experience at so many levels. I still play lacrosse with the Navy Old Goats in the Vail Lacrosse Shootout for the past 22 years.

    All best to you.
    Philip Gaffney P’65

  • July 16, 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Mr. Gaffney,

    Thank you for the message! I appreciate your congratulations, I am very excited for the road ahead… you seem to have had quite an adventurous couple of years in the Navy, I am glad Charter has such representation.

    Best of luck with the lacrosse team! I hope I will be able to see you at Reunions in the future.

    Very Respectfully,
    Olivia Rhodes ’19

  • August 15, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Congratulations. So glad to see a Chartan serve.

    I went to OCS after graduation then served 5 years. (USS Barb, SSN-596)

    Good luck!


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