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Working for a Bigger Purpose

“Question authority. But raise your hand first.”
Shannon Kopplin '87
Shannon Kopplin ’87

“Question authority. But raise your hand first.”

Shannon Hamilton Kopplin ’87 can’t remember which CSJ Sister told her this at Carondelet, but it’s never left her mind. And it has fueled her rise to be one of the highest-ranking attorneys in the U.S. Navy.

Shannon is a career naval officer, serving and ascending in a variety of positions for 25 years. In September 2019, she was selected and is now assigned as the Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Navy responsible for all civil law matters in the Department of the Navy. Previously, she served as Special Counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations, who is the head of the U.S. Navy and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Her selection as the Assistant Judge Advocate General will allow her in future years to compete to be the highest-ranking uniformed lawyer in the Department of the Navy, the Judge Advocate General.

Shanon was recruited to the Navy out of law school at Santa Clara University. A sense of adventure, patriotism, and a calling to serve all drove her to decision to enlist.

“At some point you have to work for more than a paycheck, there has to be meaning in what you do… I have that feeling every single day that I put on the uniform. I believe in what I do. Some of those values came through as a young woman at Carondelet: There has to be a bigger purpose.” -Shannon Hamilton Kopplin ’87

Recently, Shannon learned about the newly-formed rugby team at Carondelet from the alumnae newsletter. Her sons play rugby and she regards it fondly. “What a great fit. That’s the way I remember my experience at school. In unexpected places you will find people on the cutting-edge of a lot of things.”

Rugby is a fast-paced game the requires good decision-making and building a network of teammates to gain an advantage. Shannon described it affectionately as a “violent game of chess played at speed.”

And it’s inclusive. No matter a player’s size, shape, or speed—there’s a place on a rugby team for everyone. Photo by Bob Dahlberg, @bobd_photo.

“Rugby has a lot of values that the school has always tried to espouse… and I’m glad to see it expand into the girls’ domain,” she said.

Shannon was so inspired by the girls’ push to start the team that she made a donation to the program, supporting their play now and so that those students may rise to meet whatever may stand ahead of them in their lives and careers.


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