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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Seeking to reward enlisted military members of the Sea Services who give back to their communities while overcoming major challenges in their pursuit of educational and professional goals, National Naval Officers Association President Sinclair M. Harris named Coast Guard Electronics Technician 2nd Class Melissa N. Hyacinth as the first recipient of the Olivia J. Hooker Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship.

“I am honored to announce Petty Officer Melissa N. Hyacinth as the winner and first recipient of the NNOA Dr. Olivia J. Hooker STEM Scholarship,” said Sinclair. “The scholarship acknowledges the outstanding contributions of our sea service enlisted personnel who exemplify the life and legacy of Dr. Hooker who served her country honorably as a Coast Guardsman and later as a psychologist, educator and civil rights activist.”

This program’s inaugural award provides Hyacinth with $500 of tuition support as she works to complete her bachelor’s degree.

“I am excited and humbled by this award,” said Hyacinth. “I will use the scholarship to continue my education at American Military University where I am pursuing a degree in cybersecurity.” She added that she wants to continue serving the Coast Guard in the future as a cybersecurity officer because of the growing need for cybersecurity expertise.

Hyacinth serves as the lead maintenance feedback coordinator for the long-range enforcer product line at the Coast Guard’s Surface Force Logistics Center in Baltimore, Md. According to the Coast Guard, her division provides the engineering maintenance and logistical support for hull, mechanical, electrical and ordinance support for Coast Guard WHEC/WMSL-class cutters and Haley, Healy, and Polar-class ice breakers.

In addition to her engineering and electronics expertise, Hyacinth spends considerable volunteer time working with Habitat for Humanity and Lighthouse, Inc., repairing furniture and operating clothing drives for victims of Hurricane Maria. She also volunteers at Washington, D.C., food banks ensuring the area’s needy children have daily food supplies and holiday meals. Hyacinth also supports local schools by volunteering with the Coast Guard Partners in Education Program, helping support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

For her volunteering efforts, the Coast Guard awarded Hyacinth the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and strongly recommended her for the Dr. Hooker Scholarship program.

This scholarship honors the life, charity, civil rights leadership and educational accomplishments of Olivia J. Hooker, who became the first African-American woman to enlist in the Coast Guard’s female military corps in February 1945. After her honorable discharge in 1946, Hooker went on to earn her master’s in psychology from Columbia University and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Rochester.

In 1963, Hooker became an associate professor of psychology at New York’s Fordham University and served as the director of psychology at the Kennedy Child Study Center in the Bronx until her official retirement in 2002.

Despite retiring at the age of 87, she remained active in the community as a consultant in the areas of education and mental health, one of the founders of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, and as a volunteer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary and local civic organizations until her death in November 2018. 

Media Advisory:

For any press queries concerning NNOA’s Dr. Hooker Scholarship Program, please contact Navy Cmdr. Shameen Anthanio-Williams (Ret.) at shameen1976@yahoo.com  or by phone at (202) 841-7126. Additional media support is available from Rachel O’Sullivan at rachel.osullivan@voxoptima.com  or by phone at 760-310-4146. The Association’s scholarship webpages at https://nnoa.org/dr-olivia-hooker-scholarship/ provide additional information.

About the National Naval Officers Association:

Founded in 1972, the National Naval Officers Association is an advocacy organization of active duty, reserve and retired officers, midshipmen and cadets, and interested civilians of all ranks and ethnic groups working together to promote leadership and career development, junior officer mentoring, and professional networking.

Supported by an international collection of chapters, the national headquarters works with its chapters to support the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, Maritime Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse officer corps that represents the very best the country has to offer.