An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Press Release | May 6, 2024

Feature Story: Mentoring the nation’s future

Editor's note: click image to download high-resolution photo

According to the Coast Guard’s Mentoring Program, a mentor relationship is defined as “one where the outcome of the relationship is expected to benefit all parties in the relationship for personal growth, career development, lifestyle enhancement, spiritual fulfillment, goal achievement, and other areas mutually designated by the mentor and partner.” 

In short, mentoring should be an opportunity for a mutual beneficial exchange. 

For U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Kathryn Rubio, from Command, Control, Communication, Computer, Cyber and Intelligence Service Center (C5ISC) in Kearneysville, West Virginia, and Lt. James Eggers, the command center chief at Sector Delaware Bay, Philadelphia, the 62nd annual United States Senate Youth Program offered just such an opportunity. 

To Eggers and Rubio, the Senate Youth Program was a chance to gain new leadership and mentoring skills while also educating the nation’s next generation of leaders on the U.S. Coast Guard. 

On March 2, 2024, two students from each state traveled from across the nation to participate in the program which was first established in 1962 by the U.S. Senate to introduce and educate outstanding high school students interested in pursuing public service careers. 

During their nine days in Washington, the students met with senators and other representatives from across the government including 17 U.S. armed forces officers serving as military mentors including Rubio and Eggers. 

“As a mentor, you can work with some of the most accomplished future leaders of this country and interact with the “Who’s Who” of Washington, DC,” said Eggers. “The program allows you to represent your service and share what life in the military is like with students who may not otherwise have a connection to the Armed Forces.” 

Rubio said she had always had a passion for educational outreach which could be seen in her collateral duty as her unit’s Partnership in Education coordinator, a U.S. Coast Guard program providing the opportunity for service members to volunteer at partner schools. 

“When I first read about the United States Senate Youth Program, I saw it as an opportunity to foster that passion, and not only mentor a group of accomplished youth, but also learn from the process. I’ve found in many years of outreach that mentors often end up gaining leadership skills and learning from the actual mentees during the experience.” 

This was not the first time both Coast Guard officers had been exposed to the concept of mentorship. 

Mentoring can be a formal or informal relationship and both Rubio and Eggers have had many mentors in their professional and personal lives.
For Eggers, a native of Voorhees, New Jersey, the mentor who stood out most to him from his childhood was his brother George. 

“He consistently models the way forward and informally sets an expectation that I pursue excellence,” said Eggers of his brother. “He is always there to help me navigate complex situations and is truly happy for me when I succeed.” 

Rubio, who grew up in Cedar Hill, Texas, said it was hard for her to choose just one mentor since she had so many over the years including athletic coaches, teachers, and counselors, though the ones who stood out the most were her parents.  

“Some of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life were taught by them: embrace hardship and change, little things mean everything, procrastination is the killer of dreams, and more.” 

Both officers have also had important mentors in their professional careers. 

The Coast Guard mentor who stands out most to Rubio is her supervisor Lt. Cmdr. Anthony LaBoy.

“Lt. Cmdr. LaBoy helped me in my career by fueling a positive work environment, leading by example, and fostering outside-the-box thinking,” said Rubio.

Rubio attributes many of her team’s career milestones and accomplishments to his leadership style where he consistently offered support and encouragement. 

For Eggers, Capt. Kate Higgins-Bloom, the commander for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, is his personal mentor in the service. 

“Her high expectations push me to develop knowledge beyond the scope of my immediate duties, which is preparing me to take on future leadership roles within the Coast Guard,” said Eggers. “Her own achievements are inspiring, and she is one of the few leaders that possess a rare combination of intellect, strength, and humility.” 

Both their past and present mentors helped mold Eggers and Rubio into the people and officers they are today. 

Their experiences with both formal and informal mentorship provided unique insight which they passed along to the nation’s future generation of leaders during this year’s Senate Youth Program. 

Their goals reflected the overall purpose of mentorship being a two-way beneficial exchange between mentor and mentee. 

Eggers said his main purpose was to ensure the students gain an in-depth view of the senate and federal government while conveying a deeper understanding of the importance of serving your country to the students.  

Rubio stated her goal was to gain new leadership and mentor skills with the youth delegates by listening to and enacting their constructive feedback in her daily life.  

Both Coast Guard officers felt they had accomplished their goals during this years United States Senate Youth Program.

“This year’s program was especially successful after hearing delegates’ feedback on their positive mentor and mentee experiences, and what kind of influence we had on their decisions to serve in some capacity as they approach their time in higher education and commitment to universities around the world,” said Rubio. “The entire United States Senate Youth Program experience was also humbling in being given the privilege to mentor our promising leaders of tomorrow.”

Eggers agreed with that sentiment, believing he and his fellow officers left a positive and long-lasting influence on the nation’s next generation of leaders.

“Almost every single delegate approached one of the mentors to thank them for imparting their wisdom and demonstrating the discipline and aptitude required of effective military officers,” said Eggers. “I know that these delegates left inspired, with a new appreciation for public and military service.”

- USCG -