Alumnae Profiles: LTJG Megan D. Copening, C'2011
Lieutenant Junior Grade Megan D. Copening joined the United States Coast Guard through the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative in 2010. After completing eight weeks of basic training in Cape May, New Jersey, LTJG Copening returned to Spelman to complete her undergraduate degree. In May 2011, she graduated cum laude from Spelman with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology.
In August 2011, LTJG Copening began her training at officer candidate school in New London, Connecticut. After 17 weeks of intense physical fitness tests, nautical terminology, and overall leadership skills development, Copening received her commission as an Ensign and was on her way to her first unit aboard USCGC VALIANT home ported out of Miami.
Excellence on Land and at Sea
While on board USCGC VALIANT, Copening was a deck watch officer and the communications officer for four major inspections and five deployments that spanned the Florida Straits, Windward Passage, Western Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. She was responsible for safely navigating the ship through inland and international waters and ports while supervising nine enlisted personnel from the operations specialist, electronics technician, and IT ratings.
During her time on board the 210’ cutter,Copening utilized her aviation expertise to safely oversee over 230 helicopter evolutions as the helicopter control officer, assisted in the repatriation of over 210 Haitian and Cuban migrants, and navigated the ship as the primary deck watch officer in over 20 close aboard fisheries boardings resulting in 48 violations and one termination of voyage.
In addition, in her role as the helicopter control officer, she successfully launched the cutter’s deployed HH65 helicopter in a counter-narcotics case which resulted in the recovery of 43 bales of cocaine valued at $32.5 million.
Copening also participated in the Command Assessment of Readiness for Training and Tailored Ship’s Training Availability inspections where she thoroughly reviewed 650 checklist items and developed a training document to be distributed and utilized across the 210’ cutter fleet from Afloat Training Group Mayport. Additionally, during both inspections, her division received numerous “best shop” compliments from the Afloat Training Group inspectors and an overall 97% on all training objectives.
Giving Back to Those in Need
Copening’s deck-plate leadership was also evident during her time as the combined federal campaign coordinator as she successfully worked with Sector Jacksonville’s CFC manager and her crew on board USCGC VALIANT to raise over $3,050 for various local, national, and international charities and surpassing the fundraising goal by 200%.
Copening departed USCGC VALIANT in June 2013, and is now stationed at the Coast Guard Counterintelligence Service at USCG headquarters where she fuses intelligence with her tactical law enforcement experience. Her responsibilities include shielding Coast Guard operations, personnel, systems, facilities and information from foreign intelligence and security services, non-state actors, and the insider threat.
Honor for a Job Well Done
Copening was honored as a Science Spectrum Trailblazer at the 28th BEYA STEM Global Competitiveness Conference in February 2014 for her many accomplishments. Additionally, she is a member of the National Naval Officers Association, Federally Employed Women, National Council of Negro Women, and the Department of Homeland Security Emerging Leaders. She also actively donates to the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, the Delta Research and Educational Foundation, and the Human Rights Campaign.