LeighAnne Dones is the Junior Class President at Cal Maritime. She is also the first woman from Cal Maritime ever to enter the Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program. About eight percent of Cal Maritime graduates go on to pursue careers in the military.
"Ever since my first training cruise, I've wanted to sail as an engineer," she said. "I also want to serve my country. This combines everything that I want to do."
Dones, a mechanical engineering major from Santa Clarita, discovered the Navy program after graduating from high school. She was contacted by a Navy recruiter after taking the ASVAB. Once she realized she could get a degree before joining the Navy full time, she was interested.
"Technically, I'm active duty, but I don't have any military obligations yet," she explained. 
Dones says she enjoys the hands-on learning at Cal Maritime, especially the cruises and labs. 
"Some of my friends that go to other universities learn a lot of theoretical stuff, but they never get to touch an engine until much later in their college career," she said.
She also believes the Cal Maritime curriculum gives her an advantage in the program.
"Even just having been on the ship and knowing how it is to live on a ship gives me an advantage," she said. I met some of the other applicants when I was in Washington D.C. and none of the others had ever been on a ship.
Dones already knows where she hopes the program will take her.
"I want to go onto an aircraft carrier," she said. "They kind of amaze me. They're like floating cities."



Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.