C of I student accepted as U.S. Navy officer candidate

College of Idaho senior Justus Jenkins recently was sworn in and signed a five-year contract with the United States Navy after being accepted as a Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) in Washington, D.C. Jenkins, a mathematics and physics major from Hawaii, currently is on active duty, and he plans to begin his officer training after graduation next December.

“I’ve wanted to be in the military since I was about 8 years old,” Jenkins said. “My grandfather and older brother served in the Army, and I have another brother in the Navy as well. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” 

The process began when Jenkins was interviewed by a “secret investigator” who performed a rigorous background check, including interviews with acquaintances of Jenkins in his home town of Kaneohe.  Once the screening was completed, Jenkins was flown to the nation’s capitol for further testing. 

“I was interviewed by two Navy engineers,” Jenkins said. “They asked me to solve some calculus and physics equations and had me derive some theorems. It was pretty fun, but also really hard. After that, I stepped into the admiral’s office for more questioning. It was definitely one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life.”

But Jenkins passed, and he will attend Officer Candidate School after he finishes his degree at C of I. Once commissioned, Jenkins faces the rigors of Nuclear Training School (six months) and Nuclear Prototype School (six months), where he will work inside nuclear reactors and learn how they operate. Ultimately, Jenkins hopes to be a Nuclear Engineer Officer on board a Navy surface warfare ship. 

Jenkins credits his family military ties, his C of I swim team coaches and his membership and leadership role in the Kappa Sigma fraternity for steering him toward NUPOC, and he feels his education has prepared him for success. 

“I really enjoy the one-on-one instruction I receive at The College of Idaho,” Jenkins said. “Getting that extra help from my professors – and also helping other students as a tutor – has helped me gain a much better understanding of math and physics problems and why they are important.”

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including six Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another ten Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit