Navy enlists region’s first female to Nuclear Operations Program this year

L to R: Navy Commander – Captain Ben Martin, Dakota Carter (E-3) Navy Recruit, Petty Officer Stuart McCollum

Dakota Carter, a senior in Butler Tech’s Information Technology program at D. Russel Lee, receives the distinct honor of becoming this year’s first female in the Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky territory to enlist in the Navy for Nuclear Operations, a field where she will maintain and operate the nuclear systems of a submarine.

“It’s still sinking in,” says Carter. “But to be a female in a male dominated field and getting to use the technology in this field, which is unlike anywhere else, is awesome!”

Carter found herself drawn to the Navy after listening to a recruiter speak about the number of career opportunities available to students. At the time, Carter wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but knew that whatever it was had to include exploring the world, working with technology and meeting new people, and felt with the Navy, all of these requirements could be satisfied.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but knew it had to allow me to meet people, be in the IT world and travel. When this opened up, it seemed like the perfect fit.”

Carter enlisted after passing the Military Entrance Processing Station, an entrance exam that includes: taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, where she received an outstanding score; a physical; job selection; and swearing in. Carter also took the Navy Advanced Placement Test, which helped her gain acceptance into the Nuclear Operations program.

Dakota Carter with instructor, Tom Newman

“The testing was very stressful. There was a lot of calculus and physics that I needed to learn and for the other concepts I didn’t know, I went on YouTube and learned them there.”

Tom Newman, Information Technology instructor at D. Russel Lee, is truly honored as Carter’s teacher to see all that she’s accomplished in his class and where it will take her. “As a teacher I’m happy to see Dakota has a plan and knows what she will do. I’m truly proud to see a female from my class taking what she’s learned here and going off in a male dominated field to operate nuclear machinery.”

After graduation, Carter will officially be on active duty and on her to way to starting her eight-year contract. In her first two years, she will attend the Navy’s nuclear power school, where she will earn 77 engineering credit hours from MIT, the next four years on and off active duty on a submarine, and the remaining years off duty. Afterwards, Carter plans to attend MIT and major in engineering.