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Now executive officer on Coast Guard cutter, first Marine Science Magnet valedictorian comes full circle

Nearly seven years after graduating as valedictorian of the first class at the Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton, Lt. j.g. Cecelia "Cece" Hosley says she has come full circle.

A Chester native, Hosley spent her summers on the Connecticut River and Martha's Vineyard — on the beach, on boats, fishing — and became interested in marine and environmental sciences, which she majored in at the Coast Guard Academy.

Now, Hosley is executive officer aboard the Coast Guard cutter Angela McShan, where the crew is largely focused on living marine resources enforcement. That means ensuring that fishermen are operating within federal regulations and collecting the correct amount of fish, she explained.

"First and foremost, we want to keep our fishermen and women safe out at sea," Hosley said, "and then the secondary aspect of that mission is ensuring we maintain fish stocks for generations to come."

She said her background in marine science, specifically marine biology, has been helpful in her current role as a boarding officer enforcing living marine resources.

As executive officer, she leads the crew of 25 and is responsible for training and readiness. As deck watch officer, she oversees the navigation and voyage planning of the cutter, and as boarding officer, she conducts law enforcement operations.

Women inspiring other women in the Coast Guard

Hosley, 24, knew from a young age she was passionate about marine science and being on the water, but she said she wasn't interested in joining the Coast Guard until she was a high school sophomore, when the person who is now her mentor visited Marine Science Magnet.

That's Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz, who served as superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy from 2011 to 2015 before becoming deputy commandant for mission support and then retiring.

"She reminded me of me," said Stosz, who noted she only mentored a handful of cadets.

Hosley said she is in awe of Stosz' leadership characteristics and humility, and grateful that Stosz "took an interest in my life when she was phenomenally important and had a tremendous amount of responsibility."

"She is just absolutely incredible, and she really, truly has paved the way for women in the Coast Guard, like me, to be able to have the leadership opportunities," Hosley said. Now, Hosley is trying to look out for the few female members on the Angela McShan.

Stosz said she saw Hosley's confidence grow while at the Coast Guard Academy.

During that time, Hosley volunteered as a research assistant at Mystic Aquarium, and worked on independent research projects with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

At the aquarium, Hosley helped find noninvasive methods for measuring hormone levels in beluga whales, she said. With NOAA and Woods Hole, she worked on a project identifying acoustics of four whale species off Martha's Vineyard.

Also at the Coast Guard Academy, she played lacrosse and did horseback riding with the Mystic Valley Hunt Club.

After graduating in 2018, Hosley was stationed for two years maintaining aids to navigation on the cutter Walnut in Hawaii.

"I was maneuvering the 225-foot ship up close to various aids to navigation to take buoys out of the water, maintain them, replace the chain," she explained.

Hosley reported to the Angela McShan, named for the first Black female master chief in the Coast Guard, last April. She said it was her "dream job" to be executive officer of a fast response cutter.

Stosz has thought about the connections between herself, Hosley and McShan, and noted the firsts: McShan was the first Black master chief in the Coast Guard, Stosz was the first woman to lead a United States service academy, and Hosley was the first valedictorian of her high school — and it's still early in her career, so other firsts could be on the way.

Hosley transfers in the summer of 2022 and has no idea where she'll be next. She commented, "I absolutely love going to sea, so I just hope to continue going to sea as much as possible."

Stosz said she knows Hosley will go far in the Coast Guard, and she has her own vision for her mentee's future: "My goal is for her to relieve me. I'd love to see her come back as superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy."

e.moser@theday.com

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