Eclipse, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s flagship diversity and inclusion event, is a nearly fifty-year old tradition at the institution. Its purpose is to foster an inclusive environment by stimulating a community dialogue that promotes a culture of respect.
This year’s event took place April 7-9 and began with a sobering evening keynote address by Dr. Joy DeGruy. A leading author and educator, she has conducted lectures and workshops at such institutions as Spelman College, Harvard University, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Her work encompasses the atrocities and injustices Black people have endured for over 400 years, and the multi-generational trauma suffered by people of color.
“America’s enemies are creating the perfect storm when it comes to this issue of race and racism and people behaving badly,” DeGruy said. “They know exactly what buttons to push. Shame on us if we don’t figure this out.”
The first full day of Eclipse 2022 was specifically designated as an academic stand down day to allow full campus participation for cadets, officer candidates, faculty, and staff members.
The day began with several panels made up of senior officers, cadet affinity groups, and senior enlisted members discussing identity related topics encompassing race, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Following the panel discussions, a number of facilitated, small-group discussions took place around the campus.
Dr. Stacey Dixon, the first black woman to serve as the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence and a member of the Academy’s Board of Visitors, addressed the entire community Friday afternoon.
During her address Dixon challenged the cadets. “Are we always ready to stand up for what is right? Who among us is willing to lead? To move forward together, leveraging the strength of what diversity offers. Those who raise their hands to do so, not just during this weekend and not just during this week, but every week of every year are those who embody the spirit of Eclipse.”
Closing out the day, the Eclipse Talent Show featured cadets offering everything from a traditional dance from the Philippines, to a chamber music performance.
The event culminated on Saturday with the annual awards dinner, which included an address by Vice Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan. The address came shortly after her historic nomination to serve as the next Commandant of the Coast Guard and become the first woman to lead one of the nation’s armed forces.
Her comments encapsulated the theme of this year’s event, which was Forward Together: Valuing Truth and Identity in Service. “Ultimately the Coast Guard wants to create an organization, and we need to be an organization, in structure and practice where you (the service member) can be genuinely you,” Fagan said. “Where you can bring the authentic you to work, to the service, and thrive and succeed and help make this great organization even better.”
Adm. Fagan was also on hand to recognize the following recipients of this year’s Eclipse Awards for the different perspectives, talents, and abilities each awardee brings to the service.
- Lt. Cmdr. Akainyene Inyang - Manson Brown Genesis Award
- Lt. Cmdr. La’Shanda Holmes - Merle Smith Pioneer Award
- State Representative Anthony Nolan - JoAnn Miller Community Award
- Dr. Alex Waid - Frances Neal Humanitarian Award
- Lt.j.g. Yeuxing Hu - Joseph Vojvodich Award
- Chief Petty Officer Megan Sesma - Dr. Hallie Gregory Award
To learn more about Eclipse, go to https://www.uscga.edu/eclipse/.