DVIDS – News – Staff in the Spotlight
Meet Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Shan Rajani! He’s a Recruit Division Commander (RDC) at Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp.
His parents moved from Pakistan to the United States when he was 4, and he’s the first in his family to join the military.
“I joined in 2014,” he said. “My family doesn’t even know what the military is. So, it was very shocking news for them that I wanted to join.”
Rajani signed up for the Navy as a senior in high school and needed parental consent. English isn’t his father’s first language, so it was a bit of a struggle.
He took his dad to the recruiting office to sign the paperwork. In the end, the recruiter asked his dad how he felt about his son joining the military.
“My dad was like, ‘Good to go.’ But he had no idea what he was saying,” Rajani added.
“They didn’t understand what the military was, and to be honest, I didn’t either,” he said. “It was more so just my way of going out and doing my own thing without having to rely on my parents. Fortunately, I’m happy with where I am.”
Rajani’s been on different deployments, overseas and forward deployed. He’s gained quite a bit of experience in his short time in the Navy. He chose to come back to boot camp to pay it forward.
“There’s so much that I have learned over the years, I wish that someone had given that knowledge to me,” he said. “I enjoy my job. I definitely enjoy training. Mentoring is one of my biggest things.”
It’s been almost nine years since Rajani was going through boot camp as a recruit, and although a lot has changed, he tries to relate to the recruits by reflecting on his experiences.
“I connect back to my time here when I came in,” he said. “The biggest thing they don’t realize is that we’ve already been in their shoes. Once they see that, then they start understanding a lot more. I feel I’m very different when it comes to training or talking to them, and I feel like I get the point across much easier and faster. Personally, I like to make it more relatable to them.”
There are different ways RDCs approach training the recruits. Rajani likes to mentor them and make sure they’re in the right mindset.
“The second thing they don’t realize is we’re trying to help. So, it doesn’t make sense for you to constantly yell,” Rajani said. “I tell the recruits all the time, and people I work with, it’s all about the mentality. How you instill the mentality in someone else. A little motivation goes a long way.”
Rajani also relates to recruits by participating in what they are doing, such as running and push-ups with them.
“Something as simple as them seeing that you’re working with them, motivating them. When it comes to [physical training] I’m all in their faces, but in a good way to motivate them,” he added. “That little motivation hypes them up so much.”
To de-stress and have a little fun, Rajani likes to dance. That’s what he does with his free time, even during the few hours he might get to himself on the weekends. He takes hip-hop and fusion classes downtown Chicago and socializes outside of work.
“When I moved here, there was a workshop the very next day. I said, ‘You know what, just go give it a shot,’” he explained.
“I enjoy doing it. That’s become my stress relief in a way,” he added. “You meet people outside of work, so you’re not constantly in the military mindset. You kind of want to get away for a little bit, too.”
He danced a little while growing up. He said he’s gotten better at it and was recently approached about teaching his hip-hop class.
“Fortunately, a lot of people showed up, and I had a good time,” he said.
Rajani says he still has a long way to go with his dancing, but it’s fun, and appreciates the experience.
Boot camp is approximately 10 weeks and all enlistees in the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes five warfighting competencies of firefighting, damage control, seamanship, watchstanding, and small arms handling and marksmanship along with physical fitness and lessons in Navy heritage and core values, Warrior Toughness, Life Skills, teamwork, and discipline. More than 40,000 recruits train annually at the Navy’s only boot camp.
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