This episode features the host of this podcast, Victoria Adams, formally Victoria Gigante, a 2004 graduate from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. In this episode, Victoria dives deep into why the majority of her time at the Academy and in the military was spent living in survival mode, and how she was eventually able to turn her struggles at the Academy into the strong foundation necessary to build a life in which she’s now thriving. As a side note, when you hear Victoria’s story you’ll understand why she has very few photos from her time both at the Academy and in the military. Down below, however, you’ll get to see the one fun photo someone sent to her many years after graduation of her serving as a drill instructor. Enjoy the show!


  • Needing a medical waiver to attend the Academy.
  • Living in survival mode.
  • Struggling with eating and body image issues.
  • Filing for divorce and rebuilding an entirely new life.
  • Creating a life in which you’re thriving.


  • 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?

2:40 PART I:

  • What made you choose a Service Academy – and what made you specifically choose the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy?
  • Being born with a rare heart condition.
  • Feeling out of control during childhood.
  • Wanting to become an astronaut and being introduced to the Service Academies.

12:25 PART II:

  • Visiting the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for the first time.
  • Deciding to get heart surgery in an attempt to be medically qualified for the Academy.
  • Seeking a medical waiver.

19:00 PART III:

  • If you had to sum up your time at the Academy in one word, what would it be?
  • The first day of indoctrination.
  • The start of an eating disorder.
  • Highlights at the Academy.

29:26 PART IV:

  • Lowlights at the Academy?
  • Almost getting kicked out for being out of weight standards.
  • Sexual harassment at sea.
  • Witnessing 9/11 and having to go to sea immediately afterwards.

37:18 PART V:

  • Life post graduation.
  • Getting a job at Northrop Grumman and moving in with parents.
  • Getting a sailing job and being introduced to counseling.
  • Becoming the Director of the Academic Counseling Center.


  • Deciding to completely change course in life
  • How do you currently feel about your decision to attend an Academy?
  • Do you have any parting words for listeners? Perhaps a key message to your fellow Service Academy sisters?
  • What’s next for you?
  • What’s one random fun fact about you?
  • Where can people reach you?


Instagram: @victoriagigante, @serviceacademysorority



Twitter: @victoriagigante, @AcademySorority 

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Service Academy Sorority

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