English MATTERS — SPRING 2010

English degree opens the door to a world of
adventure

“Being an English major has opened doors to opportunities that I had not even imagined possible when I was in school. I have been lucky enough to enjoy a life full of adventure that has taken me to every corner of the globe.”

After changing my major to English in 2001, I studied abroad in London, where I joined the team at a small magazine called Footloose, a free travel and entertainment magazine that could be found in hotels and airports. This meant that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a real journalist with my own byline. I interviewed Alien Ant Farm, Boy George, Norah Jones, and more. I have to admit, my friends who were engineering majors were jealous when I visited a different spa each week to review for the magazine.

After returning to the States in 2002 and finishing my degree, I joined the staff of Raytheon Polar Services in Antarctica. I had never seen an emperor penguin in person, after all; this was something I needed to fix. Living in Antarctica was a singular event in my life, and not just for the stunning beauty of the landscape. Even though I worked in the housing department, I also taught an Arthurian literature class, a Taekwondo class, was a DJ on the only radio station on the ice, and sang in a jazz band.

After my dynamic experiences working and living in Antarctica, I was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard in December 2004. I was stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis in Honolulu as my first tour of duty, and as soon as my unit found out I had been an English major who specialized in writing, the command made me the Public Affairs Officer for the unit. While on the CGC Jarvis, I traveled to Alaska, Japan, Korea, and China, and worked with people from all over the world. I shared the stories of our travels and missions, and my unit won the CDR Jim Simpson Award for the best public affairs campaign in the Coast Guard.

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005, I volunteered to be a responder in New Orleans and jumped at the opportunity to do anything I could to help. I served as the federal on-scene coordinator’s Public Affairs Officer, working to help make sure that the public was informed of the Coast Guard’s actions through various media outlets. During that response, the Coast Guard saved more than 33,000 lives, and I was able to show the world the hard work of our men and women.

When it was time for me to change duty stations, I asked to be sent to New Orleans in 2006. I was given the honor by Admiral Joel R. Whitehead of being the District Public Affairs Officer, a job usually reserved for someone of a higher rank than I. I can honestly say it was my dream job. I got to write, to edit, and to help move my service forward into new realms of communication, specifically social media.

In March 2009, I was sent to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington D.C., to design, build, and launch the Coast Guard Compass, the official blog of the Coast Guard. I became the first official service blogger of any military service, another great opportunity that came in part because I had been an English major. I am still an officer in the Coast Guard, working at Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach, and everyday I look to the horizon for the next adventure, happy that I followed my heart to study what I love because it has helped me live the life of my dreams.

[picture of Ana with Japanese coast guard]

“I became the first official service blogger of any military service, another great opportunity that came in part because I had been an English major.”

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