In a year marked by a plethora of changes, MAST Academy’s Coast Guard JROTC program follows suit, introducing new student and teacher leadership. Lieutenant Commander Mitch Harvey has officially replaced newly retired Captain Glenn Grahl, and seniors Rina Lucena, Jesse Morgado, and Devin Gamboa make up this year’s command cadre.
Grahl is still fresh in the mind of cadets that knew him, and is still missed by some of the upperclassmen.
“Captain was a great instructor, and I learned a lot from him, but it’s good to have Commander Harvey on board… he brings something new to the table,” Morgado, deputy commander of MAST’s JROTC battalion, said.
Harvey has proudly served the Coast Guard for over 30 years, first learning about the Coast Guard after seeing the Coast Guard Cutter INGHAM breaking ice during a Boy Scout outing. Before coming to MAST, Harvey was a mentor for both high school and middle school students. Harvey is very excited to teach this year’s upperclassmen what he has learned throughout his years in the Coast Guard.
“I took over a successful program lead by Captain Grahl and Chief Joseph, and I want to continue the same success,” Harvey said.
Although this is his first official experience as a teacher, the command cadre has full faith in their new leader.
“I have the utmost respect for Commander Harvey. He came in on such short notice. He really wants to be here,” senior Devin Gamboa said.
The respect between Harvey and his command cadre is reciprocal. He described the senior leadership as professional and experienced. At the top of this year’s command cadre stands Battalion Commander Lucena.
Gamboa, who is Commander Master Chief, said, “[Lucena] is amazing. She’s professional. She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She’s a fantastic Battalion Commander and I wouldn’t want anybody else to lead us.”
In the same vein, Harvey said, “Battalion Commander is a professional and has tremendous skills and I believe she will be very successful in leading the Coast Guard Cadets of the 2014-2015. I have the utmost respect for her and her abilities.”
Lucena has been a part of the JROTC program for all four of her high school years. Since freshman year, Lucena showed interest in the program, and was able to take on early responsibilities such as being project manager for Open House. She was also one of three MAST Academy cadets to be selected for 2013 Naval JROTC Leadership Academy, a one week program meant to teach cadets how to lead.
The new cadre has great plans for where they want to take the JROTC program, and hope for only great things. As a whole, they hope to be responsible leaders, and a strong influence on the young and inexperienced members, but individually they have varying goals.
“I want to establish fieldtrips for Freshmen first instead of working on priority for seniors,” Morgado said.
Gamboa’s plans include making the program more appealing, “[I want] to make sure the program is fun, to teach the cadets correctly, and to improve the program.” he said.
“I want everyone to have the same opportunities to participate in Coast Guard activities,” Lucena said.