On any given Monday, something new begins in UFOP: SB118 as our Academy Trainers take the center chairs not only to guide our Cadets through their paces to be assigned to a ship, but also to give our trainers experience in the command positions. It’s a fast paced mission scenario, lasting approximately a week, that prepares our Cadets for life in the fleet, and tests our Trainers’ resolve to move up in rank.
Lt. Commander Karynn Ehlanii, First Officer on the USS Independence-A, is one of 35 Active Training Officers, and the first Trainer to be profiled in a series of articles on them.
In real life Karynn is a medical student. She said, “I’m interested in becoming a pediatrician of some type. I’m in the middle of my third year, which is the first of the clinical years in medical school.”
When she is not studying, she enjoys crocheting large blankets and reading. “My favorite type of fiction is Fantasy Fiction – and Tolkien is my favorite author. As far as science fiction goes, my favorite Trek author is Peter David. I also love music: I’ve been playing Piano for over 20 years, and I dabble in composition for the piano. I played flute for 8 years, but I haven’t played in a while.”
A little over a year ago Karynn married a member of UFOP: SB118. She spoke fondly of him, “We met through a mutual friend who was also a Trekkie. The first time I remember meeting him (he actually remembers meeting earlier), we were hanging out together and ended up watching one of the TNG movies. I believe it was First Contact. Then, early in our dating I discovered that he owned quite a few of the TNG seasons, which made for great date nights.”
Getting back to the subject of the Academy, one of the problems our cadets have is deciding what species their character will be. Karynn said, “I didn’t want to play a species that everyone else would be playing. I wanted to be a little more unique. I always liked the episode Aquiel (TNG 6×13) which is the only time a Haliian is shown in canon, and so I started playing around with the concept. I scoured the available information on the 118 Wiki and Memory Alpha and decided to go with it.”
“I’ve really loved playing a race that wasn’t well known or developed. It’s been really cool creating a language for her inspired by that episode, and working on elements of her culture. It has also been interesting exploring her touch empathy.”
“As far as Karynn Ehlanii’s career goes, I don’t have a whole lot of plans for the near future, other than doing the work I need to do to earn a promotion to Commander. I’m really excited about my plans for her personal life. She’s engaged, so I get to plan her wedding! And that has been contributing to greater development of Haliian culture, since I get to try to figure out what Haliian weddings are like.”
“In general, when I create new characters, I try to do something different. If it’s not an obscure race, I try to make them a bit counter-cultural and break a few stereotypes.”
When asked why she wanted to become a Training Officer, she echoed many of her team mates. “Being on the team of trainers is a unique opportunity to have an impact on the newest members of 118. We become the face of the group – a prospective member’s introduction to who and what 118 is. It’s also great being able to shape the cadets, using feedback to help them become even better writers than when they started. One of my passions in 118 is to work to make it an even better group than it is now, and being a trainer seems to fit with that goal.”
The most valuable lesson she said she learned in the Training Group was to think more creatively about getting others involved. “Sometimes you end up in a position where you have to think really hard about what tasks to give those you’re leading. Being a Trainer has given me a lot of practice in this area, and I think it’s made me better.”
Her most rewarding moments, have been spent “watching a Cadet go from just hitting “reply” and putting in a one paragraph response at the top, to putting out some really great SIMs from their own character’s perspective in just the space of a week. Watching a transformation like that makes all the work worth it.”
“My experience has been great. It can be a bit of work, but its really manageable since it comes a week at a time. And, as I said earlier, the rewards of being a trainer make the work worth it.”
In closing, Karynn had this to say about UFOP: SB118, “I’m really glad my husband found this group 3 years ago. I joined because he was in it, and it has really given me a great creative outlet that I didn’t have before – and through my experience, I’ve become a better writer.”
By Commander Toni Turner.