Michael F. Miller, Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs, NAVY NEWS SERVICE
16 February 2016
BATON ROUGE, La. – The first African-American woman from Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) has been selected to serve aboard U.S. Navy submarines.
Southern University and A&M College Midshipman 1st Class Nsombi Roberts, from Palm Bay, Florida, was interviewed Oct. 29 by Adm. James F. Caldwell, Jr., the director, naval nuclear propulsion program and the top Navy officer in the submarine force in Washington, D.C.
After passing her technical interviews and the interview with Caldwell, Roberts was selected for submarine service.
"I really liked the challenge, and that's why I wanted to go nuclear sub," said Roberts. "I really want to be on a fast-attack sub but my ultimate aspiration is to command a submarine.”
Leadership at Southern University NROTC provides mentorship for all midshipmen leading up to their service selection.
"We gauge incoming freshmen and let them know it's okay to go the sub route and that a very select few are selected, so if given the chance, take it," said Cmdr. Tremayne Criner, the executive officer at Southern University NROTC. "Interest in application and selection has gone up since the arrival of our nuclear programs officer, Lt. Kevin Zimmerly.”
According to Roberts, she considers herself fortunate to have a nuclear programs officer at the university.
"Midshipman Roberts was motivated the moment I met her and definitely excited about the nuclear submarine program," said Zimmerly, who came from King's Bay, Georgia, after being stationed aboard the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN-736). "I serve as mentor to our midshipmen and there is also a lot of support we receive from the NROTC program headquartered in Pensacola, Florida.
Midshipman Roberts, who attended Bayside High School, also participated in the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) program and ascended to the rank of battalion commander. She continues to be heavily involved in her school work and extracurricular activities in college. While majoring in chemistry with a minor in mathematics, she is also a member of the university's quiz bowl team as well as Zeta Phi Beta sorority.
"The NROTC program has allowed me to balance many things in my life," said Roberts. "My father was in the Army and I've been taught to balance lots of things in my life. I feel the pressure to succeed but it is good and helpful pressure.”
Midshipman Roberts is among more than 4,000 students enrolled in the NROTC program at 166 colleges and universities throughout the country. Upon graduation and completion of the NROTC program in May, she will commission as an ensign in the Navy.
Following her commissioning and graduation, Roberts will attend Nuclear Propulsion School in Charleston, South Carolina, Prototype (Nuclear Power Training Unit) at one of several locations in the country and Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut, before being assigned to her first submarine. The whole training process is expected to take 15-18 months.
The NROTC program, overseen by Rear Adm. Steven C. Evans, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers.
The officers will possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy's Citizenship Development program. NSTC includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.