emember the movie An Officer and a Gentleman? Tommy Vaughn ('07 MArch) says it's like that, only worse. The Navy's Officer Candidate School is one of those things that you're happy you completed, he says. But you're even happier that you never have to do it again.
Why would an architecture graduate join the Navy anyway?
An architecture professor took Vaughn and his classmates to architectural firms to see what it's like to compete in the big world. When a student asked about job security, the answer brought everyone up short.
"I had been thinking that I'd face my chances out in the civilian community," Vaughn said. "But that day, I heard an architect say that my future didn't depend on me as much as it did on the economy. The economy slows down and I might be let go? I wasn't interested in that."
So Vaughn heeded a friend's suggestion about the military. During his senior year, the Navy accepted his officer candidacy, then paid for his graduate work at UT Arlington. After receiving his master's degree in architecture, Vaughn officially entered the Navy.
He served as president of his Officer Candidate School class and graduated second out of 45 students in December. He began courses this spring in waste management, environmental compliance and NCF (Naval Construction Force) leadership at the Civil Engineer Corps Officers School in Port Hueneme, Calif.
In April the newly minted ensign began his life as a construction manager in the Civil Engineer Corps in Jacksonville, Fla. After two years there, he hopes to head across the ocean to see all the amazing structures he has read about: St. Peter's in Rome, the Louvre addition by I.M. Pei, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
As a child, Vaughn loved to watch drawing shows on TV. "My mother told me that architects got to draw for a living. I always knew what I wanted to do."
Craig Gantt, field operations support manager at the Arlington Water Department, saw that decisiveness in Vaughn when the senior drew out a floor plan for the inside of the northern service center.
"Tommy came in and meticulously took dimensions and drew a plan that no one in the city had a plat for," Gantt said. "He was full of good ideas and saved us a huge redesign."
Gantt offered Vaughn a job, but by that time, so had the Navy. "Maybe—when I get out in 20 years or so," Vaughn says of the offer.
Until then, he's got some traveling to do.
— Nancy Allison
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