From Flames softball field to U.S. Navy ships

Erica Hampton

Erica Hampton will power U.S. Navy ships after she completes Officer Candidate School in 2016. “It’s is an incredible honor,” says Hampton, a junior in engineering. Photo: Steve Woltmann

When softball player Erica Hampton graduates in December 2015, she will face a new challenge: powering a U.S. Navy ship.

Hampton, a junior in electrical engineering, was recently accepted into the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program. She will begin her training with Officer Candidate School in January 2016, then spend four years with the U.S. Navy and four years with the Navy Reserve.

“It is an incredible honor to be accepted into the program,” Hampton said. “I am looking forward to applying what I have learned from being an athlete here at UIC, as well as an electrical engineering student, to my job with the U.S. Navy.”

Hampton will receive advanced nuclear power training to become qualified as a surface warfare officer.

She will be deployed with the U.S. Navy and oversee the operation of the onboard nuclear reactor and propulsion plant.

Hamilton interviewed with naval officers in San Diego and Washington, D.C., to be admitted into the program. She decided to apply after Kathleen Corcos, assistant director of the Engineering Career Center, told her it might be a good option.

“I wanted to do something that keeps me busy,” she said. “I’ll be powering the ships and I think the program is a good fit for me.”

Hampton already has a lot to keep her occupied — balancing her rigorous engineering course load as well as her busy softball schedule. “I get up at 5:30 and do weights, then have class and straight from there I go to practice, then back home to eat and study,” she said.

Hampton is an outstanding student and athlete, said head softball coach Michelle Venturella.

“We are all so proud of Erica for this amazing accomplishment,” Venturella said. “I love that she had the courage to pursue this lofty goal and reached it. She is one of the few women in the program and is paving the way for others to follow.”

Hampton won’t begin the U.S. Navy program for more than a year, so she’s determined to reach another goal in mind in the meantime.

“I want to finish my senior year winning the conference and going to regionals,” she said.

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