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Motivated Engineering Student Thrives on Blend of Academics, ROTC at Old Dominion

Joseph Dunne was an undergraduate student at the University of South Florida in 2001, not sure what he wanted to do with his academic career, and his life.

Then the attacks of Sept. 11 occurred. Dunne knew what he wanted to do - what he had to do - with his life. Dunne, whose father served in the Navy and whose brother died while serving his country in the Navy, enlisted in the Navy. "I had to do something. I couldn't just sit by, it was my turn to serve" he said.

Military life has taken the 28-year-old Pittsfield, N.H., native to a number of different locations. It brought him to Hampton Roads in 2004, assigned to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier stationed at the Norfolk Naval Base.

In 2008, Dunne was chosen for the Seaman to Admiral 21 Commissioning Program, which paid for him to finish his education at Old Dominion University. He's scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in mechanical engineering technology from the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology and a commission as a naval officer.

His three years at ODU have certainly agreed with Dunne. He ended up being ranked ninth out of 307 officer candidates and midshipmen on the National Surface Warfare Officer Ship Selection Order of Merit list.

Each year, Naval Service Training Command, which controls all Naval ROTC programs across the nation, gathers information for the National Order of Merit list of officer candidates and midshipmen who are in line to graduate. These men and women are evaluated on academics, demonstrated leadership performance and physical fitness.

"It wasn't until I got here that I appreciated how cooperative Old Dominion was with the military. It's been a great experience," Dunne said. "The program is great at guiding you in the direction you want to go, helping you achieve the goals you want to achieve, and allowing you to become involved in the university and the community."

He singled out Tony Dean, associate professor of engineering technology, and a Navy veteran himself, as one of the faculty members who challenged him to succeed and become involved.

"He knows the background I was coming from, and what I was hoping to achieve," Dunne said.

In addition to his challenging studies, Dunne said the combined Hampton Roads Naval ROTC program has provided tremendous opportunities for leadership, including his participation in the American Society of Naval Engineers chapter on campus and volunteer coaching positions for his son's sports teams.

"Throughout my time here, I've been able to do a multitude of leadership jobs, which will help me as I move forward in my career," he said.

Dunne found out in February that, upon commissioning, he will be assigned to the USS Fort McHenry, LSD-43, an amphibious dock landing ship. He'll be part of an officer pool of about 25 assigned to the ship. "I'm excited to get the opportunity to serve on the many different Navy ships," Dunne said.

This article was posted on: March 21, 2011

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