With the May 21 Commencement date drawing nearer and nearer, members of the Class of 2006 are full of post-Tufts plans, be they graduate school, entrance into the professional world or traveling.
But for Tufts senior Daniel Crenshaw, graduating from Tufts means becoming a full-fledged member of the United States Navy.
Crenshaw, an International Relations major, has been involved in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps [ROTC] throughout his college years. This past December, he was informed of his acceptance into the Navy SEALs program.
The process involves much commitment and many tests of physical and mental strength. Last summer, Crenshaw spent a month in Coronado, California for the mini-BUD/S – Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal students – training program, where he competed and was evaluated alongside forty other prospective individuals.
“It was hard – some days really kicked our ass,” he said.
In addition to physical training, the students spent two weeks helping official SEALs train. “We were basically their dummies,” Crenshaw said.
“There was lots of hand-to-hand combat,” he added. “It meant getting shot at, too. They also used real guns but replaced the lead with paint, which hurt.”
Last fall, Crenshaw sent the Navy his “package,” which contained recommendations and other pieces of his academic work.
He was also required to take a physical fitness test, which involved a 500-yard side stroke swim, a mile and a half run in combat boots and as many push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups as he could do in two minutes.
As strenuous as the process was, however, Crenshaw says that he has wanted to be in the Navy for a long time. “It’s kind of hard to explain why I wanted to do it – there’s a lot of reasons. I used to read books about it in middle school. I guess I really like the need to compete and be the best. There’s definitely a patriotic sense to it, too.”
The day before graduation, Crenshaw will be commissioned to go on active duty and will then move to California.
After graduating from the BUDs program, he will go through official SEAL training, where he will work with a platoon to do more specialized work. He will then be deployed to active duty.
Crenshaw has no other family members involved in the military, which perhaps explains why some of his family is a little worried about him. Despite qualms, all are still very supportive of his pursuits.
When asked for his own feelings on the war in Iraq, Crenshaw is a hesitant to express his views. Because personal feelings do not represent those of the Navy, he wants “to steer away from publicizing any opinions about it.”
“I’m not against the war, though,” Crenshaw added.
In addition to his involvement in the ROTC, Crenshaw is a member of the Director’s Leadership Council, a group that acts as a liaison between students and professors in the International Relations Department.
He is also the president of Model UN at Tufts and has been to Model UN conferences at McGill University in Montreal and Harvard University.
Looking back at his experiences over the past four years, Crenshaw admits that it was hard for him to balance his school work with ROTC responsibilities.
“I had to take another class for it at MIT and it was difficult to get there and back twice a week,” he said.
“But like any other club, it’s as much work as you’re willing to put into it,” he added.
The Navy, he believes, is a different community than any other in the military, which is perhaps what draws him to it the most.
“It’s laid back yet intense at the same time,” he said. “They tell you that it’s 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, which is very true. It just comes down to how hard you want it.”