Romeoville High School and A. Vito Martinez Middle School will welcome returning alumnus U.S. Navy Capt. Andrew Carlson on Feb. 27.
Carlson will visit both schools to speak to current students about how his educational experience in Valley View School District set him on his path to career success and helped him develop his guiding principles.
“To be good at something you have to practice; to speak or write authoritatively you have to be informed; to connect with people and build a team you have to listen; and that different doesn’t mean better or worse, it just means different,” Carlson said in a news release from the Valley View School District.
He identified character traits of “civility, confidence and humility, valuing teamwork, honesty and integrity” as being integral while he was in command of and serving with the crew of the USS Zumwalt.
Carlson, who graduated from Romeoville High School in 1991, will begin his day by visiting RHS and speaking to students assembled in the auditorium. Following the larger assembly, he will visit with the students participating in the United States Marine Corps Junior ROTC program.
Following his visit to RHS, Carlson will travel to A. Vito Martinez Middle School, where he attended grades six through eight as a student (at that time, AVM was known as West View Middle School).
Capt. Carlson will be the featured speaker at AVM’s sixth annual College and Career Connections Café, where he will address students regarding his experience in pursuing college education and his career choice.
Carlson, a source of great pride to his hometown of Romeoville, is the commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s most technologically advanced destroyer, the USS Zumwalt. While visiting AVM, he will accept the AVM Distinguished Alumnus honor.
“The fact that Capt. Carlson is generously willing to travel from San Diego to Romeoville to personally accept the award and speak with our students reinforces our decision to honor him; it’s another example of his unwavering selflessness and public service,” AVM School counselor Anita Hilton said in the news release.
“Our students gain inspiration from hearing from those who have walked the same halls and gone before them, blazing trails and achieving at the highest levels, and while Capt. Carlson’s academic and career achievements are exceptional, we believe his story will relate to current students due to the diversity of interests he pursued while in the Valley View schools.”
Carlson graduated first in his class of 408 from the RHS in 1991. While at RHS, he participated in student government, choir and Madrigals, spring musicals, soccer, football and track.
He persevered through the long healing process from a football injury that could have jeopardized his admittance to the United States Naval Academy.
Carlson graduated from the Naval Academy in 1995, earning a Bachelor of Science in systems engineering.
He continued his education by earning a Master of Science degree in astronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and also earned a diploma from the Naval College of Command and Staff.
In addition to his principal service in Surface Warfare, Carlson holds subspecialties in space systems engineering and national security, and he is qualified as a joint specialty officer.
Through his 25-year career, Carlson has held positions in command at home and abroad. He is authorized to wear various personal and unit awards, including the Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendations and Battle Efficiency Awards.
“It hasn’t always been a plan to remain in the Navy for these 25 years, but the challenge of the work [and] the significance of supporting our national interests, with respect to freedom of navigation and ensuring open waterways that enable a global economy, were part of the reasons each time I was up for orders I decided to take another tour,” Carlson said in the news release.
“Additionally, the adventure of life on the sea, the opportunity to participate in making history and, most importantly, the benefit of working with tremendous talent and superb character of the people with whom I have served were also factors.
“Ultimately the support and sacrifice of my family has also been part of each decision to remain in the Naval Service and continue to do what I do.”
Formed in 1972, Valley View School District 365U comprises most of Bolingbrook, Romeoville and portions of Plainfield, Lockport and Downers Grove, according to its website, vvsd.org.
The district serves approximately 16,000 students in 22 educational facilities.