The Trident staff recently sat down with CAPT Rivera (USNA ‘94) to discuss his new role and what it’s like to be back at the academy.
What motivated you to pursue the position as deputy commandant at the Naval Academy?
The opportunity arose to come to the Naval Academy, and I knew that coming into the job as deputy commandant, there would be direct interaction with the brigade on a daily basis from the commandant’s cost center. I would be able to work with young people again, which is something I enjoyed when I was at my last command, shaping the lives of younger sailors. I think that translates into this job well. I am able to interact with the future of the Navy, and helping shape their careers and their future is something that I was very interested in.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge in this role?
My personal challenge right now is time management. This job is extremely demanding so being able to balance the requirements of the job and getting out on the deck plates and interacting with the midshipmen when you have a full plate is going to be a challenge. Engaging with midshipmen to shape their career progression, their experience and achieving the mission of the academy is something that is going to be challenging for me. But I am up for that challenge.
What are your priorities going into the next academic year?
I am in support of the commandant and his belief in the relentless pursuit of excellence in order for the midshipmen to lead sailors and Marines in the future. With that, I balance support of the superintendent and his beliefs. Those are my main priorities – to help them achieve those goals.
What has changed since you attended the Naval Academy?
There is a lot more focus on character and leadership development then there ever was. The moral mission is now more than ever something people are paying attention to. That doesn’t mean that the physical and mental missions are discarded. I just think that in my time here there was not as much emphasis on the moral mission as there needed to be. The amount of effort behind the scenes put in by the staff and faculty to improve character development of our future leaders is one big change I have seen since I have been back.
What do you want the Trident readers to know about you?
I want the Trident readers to know that I think it is important the staff and faculty here are working tirelessly to support the mission of the Naval Academy. I think as a mid, I had zero visibility to that so when I picked up the Trident as a midshipmen, I never understood the level of detail that the entire staff and faculty put in to helping midshipmen achieve the three mission areas. I would like readers to understand it does exist. We have a lot of dedicated individuals here, and it is very impressive to see.
What do you think you bring as a naval officer to this position?
I have experience not only graduating from the Naval Academy but serving in the fleet – serving with other graduates and the different perspective you gain from that. I have always been thrust into a leadership position, so I’m able to share my experiences with the midshipmen and show them some of the leadership challenges they may face as they go out into the fleet. I found in my month here that this is a great job, and I will work the hardest I can to make sure the gaps are covered and I don’t leave any stone unturned.
How do you feel that the Naval Academy helped you prepare for the fleet?
I was under constant stress while I was here, and I don’t mean to say negative stress. There is a certain amount of stress that you have to have. Whether it was academics, athletics, personal, I always felt some amount of stress, and a lot of that translates into the fleet. You have similar issues that pop up in the fleet, and the little stress I faced here prepared me to handle the bigger stresses – whether it be leaving for deployment, being underway for several months, moving from command to command. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I don’t know what would have happened if I went through another officer program, but I do attribute a lot of my success in the fleet to how the academy prepared me for my future. I am honored to be back at the Naval Academy and serving the institution that has helped bring success to my career and family. Unfortunately when you are here you don’t tend to fully grasp how good things are here until you graduate and enter the fleet, so it is an honor to get back here and give back to the institution that gave me so much.