I had a dream to attend Duke University, but my parents could not afford such an expensive college. My Grandfather attended the Naval Academy and had big hopes of me following in his footsteps. I knew the Naval Academy wasn’t right for me but decided in order to attend Duke, I would apply for a Navy R.O.T.C scholarship funding my tuition. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. While at Duke, I was incredibly fortunate to have a close group of friends within the ROTC unit. After college I selected to serve as a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy, my first assignment was a destroyer out of San Diego, CA as one of the engineering officers. For my second assignment, I was the ship’s Navigator on an amphibious ship also out of San Diego. Finally, I worked at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California (not a bad place to live for two years).
It was only in 1994 that women were authorized to serve on combatant ships in the Navy. At the time I didn’t realize I was still part of the early stages of women serving aboard combatant ships. My first ship had a fully integrated crew of female officers and enlisted, but my second ship only had female officers. I was one of six women on a ship of over 300 (over 1,000 when the Marines embarked). I was fortunate to serve with wonderful professionals and amazing fellow women. Looking back 16 years later, I am so grateful to have served and to be a veteran. I feel a great sense of pride having been part of something larger than myself.