This episode features Karen Fuller Tynan, a 1987 graduate from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. In this episode, you’ll hear all about what it was like to be a woman at Kings Point in the ‘80’s, how Karen landed a sailing job on tankers with Chevron , stayed there for 10 years post-graduation, and why she eventually felt it was time to move on to something new. Karen also speaks about her transition out of the world of sailing and how she ultimately ended up in California practicing employment law. As a side note, Karen didn’t mention this in the interview but it turns out that when she made the decision to leave Chevron, she was actually the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet at the time! So across the board, Karen’s been one of our Academy sisters paving the way. Enjoy the show!

Karen as a Cadet during Sea Year – 1985


  • What it was like to go to an Academy in the ‘80’s
  • Being one of the first classes at an Academy
  • Landing a job before graduation
  • Feelings behind remaining silent when injustices are seen
  • Sailing on tankers in the late 80’s and early 90’s
  • Making the decision to transition out of the maritime industry
  • Deciding to move into a new career


  • Can you tell everyone where you’re from? What school you went to and when you graduated?
  • Can you give everyone 1-2 lines about who you are?

2:25 PART I:

  • What made you choose a Service Academy – and what made you specifically choose the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy?
  • What appealed to you about the federal service academies?
  • Had you ever been around ships or spent a lot of time around the ocean?
  • How did your family feel about your desire to attend an Academy?

12:15 PART II:

  • What was the feel on campus when you went to visit? Was there any tension since you are a woman?
  • What was the plan when you decided to go to the Academy? 
  • If you had to sum up your time at the Academy in one word, what would it be?
  • How did those first few weeks go for you when you arrived for indoctrination?

21:45 PART III:

  • What were some of the high points that you enjoyed at the Academy?
  • Tell me about sea year in the 80’s. 
  • As your time through the Academy progressed, did you start to gain some clarity about what you wanted to do post-graduation?

31:25 PART IV:

  • Were there any major lowlights you’d like to share?
  • Sexual harassment and body image issues.
  • Sticking up for other women classmates.
  • What were the key lessons you learned at the Academy that you took into your career?
  • Did you play a sport back then?
Karen and her daughter

42:45 PART V:

  • What was your transition like into work post-graduation?
  • Did you feel prepared for life at sea and life on a ship?
  • How did you feel as a woman on those ships in the 80’s?
  • Making the decision to leave sailing.
  • Balancing motherhood and a career transition.


  • So what are you currently doing now?
  • How do you currently feel about your decision to attend an Academy?
  • What’s next for you?
  • Do you have any parting words for listeners? Perhaps a key message to your fellow Service Academy sisters?
  • What’s one random fun fact about you?
  • Where can people reach you?

Twitter: @karenattorney


Thanks for listening and don’t forget to visit us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn

In addition, if you enjoy what you heard here today, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review. And if you’d like to be featured on an upcoming episode, please feel free to submit your contact information on our website here.

Like, share, rate, subscribe. Thanks!!

Find us on iTunes!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • It was nice listening to the podcast, Karen. I am from the USMMA class of ’86. My maiden name was Peggy Fischer. I remember you at the academy.
    Nice to hear you are doing well.
    You are representing Kings Point well.
    Hope to see you at future events. I too like to golf.

    • Hi Peg! Thanks for listening and providing feedback. We’ve passed your message along to Karen and we’re sure she’ll be thrilled to know that you love to golf. If you ever want to be on the podcast to share your own story, just let us know!

Service Academy Sorority

Latest videos