Campus Life

UWF President embarks on submarine as part of Navy Nuclear Educator Orientation

University of West Florida President Judy Bense recently joined a group of 10 educators from higher education institutions across the U.S. for a U.S. Navy Nuclear Educator Orientation Visit hosted by the Navy Recruiting Command in San Diego. During the two-day trip, Bense toured three commands: the USS Higgins, an Arleigh Burke class destroyer; the Submarine Learning Center; and the USS Asheville, a nuclear powered submarine.

The visit was focused on informing educators about the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program, or NUPOC. The highly competitive program is an excellent option for students who are interested in science or engineering to receive money for college, as well as military health care benefits, while studying to become a Navy Nuclear Officer after graduation. Once they graduate from the program, the students are commissioned and begin training to become a Submarine Officer, Surface Warfare Officer, Naval Reactors Engineer or Naval Nuclear Power School Instructor.

Bense said she was interested in participating in the trip to broaden her understanding of the military and better relate to the needs of the 24 percent of UWF students who come from military backgrounds.

“The military has its own culture and values, and coming from a highly militarized area of Northwest Florida, it is important that I am familiar with them,” she said. “These experiences have added to my understanding of the scope of the military. Additionally, UWF is always looking for innovative partnerships that further our student’s opportunities, especially in the STEM disciplines. This program does just that.”

Bense credits Marc Churchwell, director of the UWF Military & Veterans Resource Center, for coordinating the trip and making her involvement possible. Churchwell also accompanied Bense on the trip and is planning to assist the Navy Recruiting Command in finding qualified students from Northwest Florida who would be a good fit for the NUPOC program through military career fairs and other methods.

For additional information about UWF’s support of military and veteran students, visit