By Jack Zampillo ‘18

Can you imagine what it would be like to spend five days underwater? To be in control of a naval aircraft thousands of feet in the sky? Me neither. 

For Brian Conlisk, Class of 2016, these extraordinary circumstances are just another day in the office. 

Following his time at Rice, Conlisk was accepted into Purdue University’s aerospace engineering program and immediately enrolled into Naval ROTC. He recalls training about 4 times a week, along with learning the ins and outs of what the U.S. Navy expects from those willing to make the sacrifice.

Brian went through school knowing his future was in aviation, but was happy to learn and experience what the other communities of the navy entailed.

“I traveled to San Diego a couple of times to work underwater and train on naval ships,” he recalled. “I actually spent five days on a submarine my sophomore year.” 

Five days underwater is a nightmare to most, but Brain describes it as a “cool” experience. “It took some time to get used to, but the people on the sub were awesome,” he said. “They were more than willing to accommodate and even briefed us on some of their missions.”

After graduating from Purdue in December of 2020, Brian was commissioned in the U.S. Navy and began training as a student aviator in March of this year. He is currently stationed in Florida and has just completed the first of three phases of training. 

Brian intends to build a career in the U.S. Navy, but isn’t limiting himself to one path: “I plan to make a career out of it, but I truly don’t know where I’ll be 10 years from now.” 

When reflecting on his time at Brother Rice, Brian credits his work ethic to the standards his teachers held him to. “Brother Rice was the first place I learned how to learn, how to put in that extra effort,” Conlisk said. “My four years set the foundation for me to be successful.” 

Brian was a four-year member of the basketball program and feels as though his experience taught him something deeper than the X’s and O’s.

“I was never a starter. I never even got a lot of playing time, but I knew what I was doing was helping the team, and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “The same applies to what I’m doing now. I’m a small part of a team working towards something bigger.” 

One piece of advice you’d give to current students?

“Every great accomplishment comes after some sort of failure. We have to learn how to fail in order to succeed. Work hard, and learn from your mistakes.”

Rice memory? 

Senior night at home vs. Leo. Josh Niego hits a three-pointer right in front of our bench to win the game. I still remember us practicing that play all year, and it worked to perfection.”