St. John’s Welcomes Secretary of the Navy

On April 25, St. John’s was honored to have SECNAV Carlos Del Toro visit campus to address students in the Cadet Corps Leadership Program. 

Click to view photos by MC2 T. Logan Keown.

The Honorable Del Toro, 78th Secretary of the Navy, is responsible for more than one million sailors, marines, reservists, and civilian personnel. His priorities include securing the training and equipment necessary for successful naval operations and addressing the most pressing challenges confronting the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. His 22-year naval career includes a series of critical appointments and numerous tours of duty at sea. After retiring at the rank of commander, Secretary Del Toro founded SBG Technology Solutions, Inc. in 2004. He holds master’s degrees in national security studies from the Naval War College, space systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, and legislative affairs from George Washington University.
The lecture, made possible by a current SJC parent on the Secretary’s staff, included Secretary Del Toro’s life story before, during, and after his naval career. He shared how his family fled Cuba in 1960 following the Cuban Revolution and immigrated to the United States. Their new home was in Hell’s Kitchen—also known as Clinton, on the west side of midtown Manhattan—where both his parents worked several jobs to support the family. As a young child, he was raised by his grandmother who taught him Spanish, although he would also learn English when he entered school.
Despite the turmoil of his earliest years, Del Toro always loved learning and was very excited to attend high school. Although he had a passion for electricity and engineering, when it was time for apply for college, he still wasn’t sure of his path. Then he learned that he could feed both his professional interests and serve his country by applying to the U.S. Naval Academy. He encouraged the cadets to apply to those academies and colleges that will enable them to feed their passions and achieve their life’s goals, even if they think the schools are not within their reach. “You’ll never make it if you don’t apply,” he said. Del Toro recalled his excitement when he learned of his acceptance to the Naval Academy, where he learned how to lead and the importance of leading with empathy. He reminded the cadets to “take advantage of all the programs, such as scholarships and internships, available to you,” and that, “you can do anything you want to do if you set your mind to it.”
Following his retirement from the Navy, Del Toro went to work in the private sector where, after helping with President Biden’s election campaign, he was asked by Biden to assume the role of Secretary of the Navy. 
He concluded his talk with a message of caution. He warned the students about the pitfalls of social media: “Don’t let social media define who you are, what you believe in, and what you want to strive for. Don’t let social media drive your life.” Following his presentation, Secretary Del Toro answered questions and stayed long after the bell rang to meet and take photographs with all the cadets waiting to speak with him.
“It was an honor to hear from a man I could relate to so personally—both as a Latino and as the son of immigrant parents. His message of empathy, his ability to put the needs of others before his own, and his perseverance in the face of adversity is what good leaders are all about. He taught us there is no leadership if you do not care about those you lead,” said C/CSM Rafael Visoso ’24.