Alyssa Payne '14 & Karida Harris '14

When Karida and Alyssa graduated from Mount de Sales Academy in 2014, they knew their next chapter at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy would bring challenges, but they felt prepared for success. However, they did not realize their bond as Sailors would grow stronger and the values they learned at MDSA had set the foundation for a genuine, fruitful friendship.
Mount de Sales taught Karida and Alyssa to be relentless in the pursuit of the good and emboldened them to seek every opportunity to share it with others. Leaving MDSA and entering a male-dominated environment was certainly a culture shock; nevertheless, the duo refused to limit their achievement. They knew who they were and what they had to say was important.
During their junior year, they held leadership positions in managing health and wellness as well as community service. They also served Regimental Staff in the fall of 2017 as second and third in command for 1,000 cadets. Karida and Alyssa undertook the challenge together, offering accountability and support. In these positions, they supervised day-to-day activities while coordinating high-visibility events and interacting with VIPs, such as congressional staffers and senior leaders, on a regular basis.
They also had meaningful summer experiences in the operational Coast Guard. Last summer, Karida served in Patrol Forces Southwest Asia in Bahrain, where she drove a patrol boat during numerous evolutions and stood high-risk security watches for her unit. During Alyssa’s summer assignment on a buoy tender in North Carolina, she learned invaluable lessons in her time ship-driving and coordinating morale and logistics with her shipmates.
Academically, the rigors of MDSA’s humanities courses were key to success. Their writing and critical thinking skills set them apart and allowed them to take advantage of fantastic opportunities. Karida earned a place as a Presidential Fellow for the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, traveling to Washington, DC, to meet with policy experts. She also won the Veterans of Foreign Wars Award, which recognizes the cadet whose studies in the humanities have been most outstanding.
Alyssa received a scholarship to attend the American Institute on Political and Economic Systems in Prague, Czech Republic, where she studied Conflict Resolution, Political Philosophy, and Political Economy at Charles University with students from around the world. In addition, she wrote and presented a collaborative report funded by U.S. Africa Command that allowed her to study and travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Gabon for research.
Karida and Alyssa earned their Bachelor of Science degrees in Government and International Relations in May of 2018. Mount de Sales was essential to Karida and Alyssa’s development, as it provided appreciation for the inherent worth of every person and a responsibility to determine and act on what is right. The faith and principles fostered at Mount de Sales directly influenced their choice to serve in the Coast Guard because of its humanitarian missions and family-oriented environment. It further gave them the balance and perspective essential to being a well-rounded renaissance officer, the kind of officer the military needs to remain professional and relevant in today’s ever-changing world. Karida and Alyssa are forever grateful for the home and community they found at Mount de Sales and for the friendship that blossomed from their time there.

Mount de Sales Academy

Academic Excellence in the Catholic Tradition