Completing her degree aboard a carrier

Lindsey Roe

Lindsey Roe

GRCC’s Roe zeros in on her AA while serving the U.S. Navy

in the Persian Gulf

Some 1,200 students take advantage of Green River Community College’s online-study option every quarter.

Among them is Auburn native Lindsey Roe, 22, now enrolled in Bruce Haulman’s class in Pacific Northwest History at GRCC. Counting this class, she is a mere two from finishing her AA degree.

But Roe’s situation is unlike that of any of her virtual classmates – she’s in the U.S. Navy and builds live bombs and missiles aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf.

That sort of long-distance learning makes things a bit tricky, especially when field trips to local museums crowd the class syllabus, assignment deadlines take a back seat to a young naval person’s official duties, and the Internet goes kerflooey.

“Because we are in the Persian Gulf, the Internet and e-mail sometimes gets shut down,” Roe explained last week in an e-mail to the Auburn Reporter. “We also have Internet hours, meaning some hours of the day you can only go to certain sites. Most people work 12-hour shifts as well, so a lot of the work is done after working hours.”

The Lincoln, part of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, helps to support maritime security operations. Its work complements the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seeks to disrupt violent extremists’ use of the world’s waters to attack or transport people, weapons or other material.

Roe graduated from Auburn High School in 2004. In her junior year, she began Running Start, a program that allows high school juniors and seniors to take college classes at GRCC to finish high school and begin working toward a college degree. She joined the U.S. Navy in June 2005 and came to the Lincoln, which home ports in Everett, in October 2005.

Typically Roe is up at 6:30 a.m. and mustered at 7 a.m. She and her fellow crew members spend some time cleaning up the ship and then drop down to one of the magazines to study or read while they wait for a bomb build. Her job, or rate as the Navy calls it, is AO3, meaning Aviation Ordnance-man.

“It’s a very fun job,” Roe said. “A lot of camaraderie. Our days are sometimes pretty boring until we have a bomb build. That’s when I really start to love my job.”

Navy helping students

Some of Roe’s shipmates take advantage of college classes, too. The Navy offers a number of courses, and some of them are taught onboard with instructors. The Navy also helps pay for school. Because Roe attended GRCC before enlisting in the Navy, however, she has found it much easier to keep taking classes at her old school.

Roe said she gets a decent amount of time off work, so she can study a bit, but this varies.

“I am trying really hard to keep my grades up and for now I believe I am doing well,” Roe said. “I usually read in my rack at night and in the magazines, where ordnance is stored. I plan to take the last two classes to finish my AA and move on to a University to work on a BA in marketing and advertising. I love business, and I have taken somewhere around 10 business classes total.”

Learning from afar

Haulman said he has taught students in far-flung outposts like Germany and Korea before, but none in Roe’s situation.

“The big thing that’s different for somebody like Lindsey taking my Pacific Northwest History class is if I have an assignment for her to visit a museum we just have to find alternative ways for her to do it. Generally, it comes out fairly well,” Haulman said.

Haulman said some area museums, such as the Burke at the University of Washington, have Web sites with virtual tours, and Roe can take advantage of that.

“Another one of the issues is she can’t always get on the Internet. It’s not always working where they are or during what they are doing. But when the Internet’s up and she’s off duty, she sends me things. As a teacher, you’ve got to be flexible and realize what the circumstances are. Lindsey’s been a great student.”

Roe recently became engaged to her boyfriend of two and a half years, whom she met aboard ship. He just transferred to Guam in February. A Pennsylvania boy, he spent five years on the USS Abraham Lincoln. No date for the wedding has been set.

“I do a lot of reading, or at least I used to before I started class,” Roe said. “I like to do crosswords, but I usually do them in pencil since I am not very good, and I have a habit of peeking at the answers. I work out, too. I try to stay in shape and energized.”

Roe keeps in contact with friends and family as much as her circumstances allow.

“E-mail is one of the few ways we have to stay in touch back home,” Roe said. “I e-mail my parents daily. I miss my friends and family a lot. Sometimes I get homesick, and I miss being home with everyone.”