Posted by Jasmine Mieszala, Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Blog series created by Petty Officer 2nd Class Courtney Myers.
This is the 17th in a series of Q+A blog posts highlighting enlisted female leaders serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Be sure to check back monthly for more career insight, mentorship and inspiration.
Please describe your daily duties.
I lead the Facility and Container Inspection Branch at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound in Seattle. I handle day to day activities, including correspondence, after action inspection reports, interacting daily with industry partners, and participating in Area Maritime Security Subcommittees and Executive Meetings.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
There have been several moments in my career that solidified my commitment to marine safety. I obtained qualifications as a SU, OU, and CDO. One night, a large inspected research vessel sunk with 12 people aboard. This incident highlighted the importance of prevention and vigorous inspection programs. Often prevention and response officer-in-charge of marine inspections and SMC are perceived as separate roles. As inspectors, we get trapped in the day-to-day activities and don’t see the overall strategy.
Interacting with fellow marine science technicians. MSTs are highly motivated and educated.
Did you ever feel like giving up? If so, what made you keep pushing?
Yes, several times. Getting my vessel inspection and CDO qualifications were challenging. More recently, I finished my first quarter in college, taking 14 credits at the University of Washington. I felt exhausted all the time – constantly working on assignments or preparing for exams.
Do you feel as though you have faced obstacles that your male counterparts have not?
Yes. Particularly when conducting foreign vessel exams. As a lead inspector, sometimes the crews discount your experience or qualifications and would rather talk to the most junior, unqualified male to discuss the issues at hand. This can be frustrating. It’s important to ensure you act as one team with one voice.
Do you have a hobby that you enjoy outside of work? If so, please explain.
I love to ski. If I could, I would do it every day, and move to Chile during the summer months. I love the mountains.
Is there anything particular you do outside of your Coast Guard service to maintain your personal identity?
Being outside in the mountains and away from computers/phones.
Yes. I did find it difficult particularly when my husband was on active duty. We were always balancing duty schedules.
What advice would you give to young women thinking about joining the service?
I definitely have enjoyed my service. The Coast Guard offers unique experiences, you cannot get from other services. I have never felt like a number.
What is the most valuable lesson the Coast Guard has taught you in regards to leadership?
Be committed to the mission. If you don’t value what you’re doing, others won’t either, and it will hamper success.
If you have used Tuition Assistance, please tell us about your experience.
I used TA to get my associate and bachelor degrees. Currently, I am using my Post 9/11 GI Bill while on active duty. I reviewed options, and based on my career goals, felt this would be the best time to complete my master’s degree. I am enrolled at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, a top ranked business school. I completed my first quarter, and it was incredibly challenging. The class is made by top executives from the Seattle area, representing various industries (Amazon, T-Mobile, Alaska Airlines, Starbucks). This summer, I am looking forward to a study abroad trip to Tallin, Estonia, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.
I would urge everyone to consider their own goals and intentions before using the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Sometimes it makes sense to use it while on active duty and sometimes it doesn’t. Do your research.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you go about choosing this individual?
I don’t have any formal mentor but often find myself asking my husband for good advice when needed.
Are you in search of a mentor, additional leadership or just a push in the right direction? Do you have rating questions and need a brain to pick? If so, Doris has expressed interest in being a mentor and invites you to ask questions and share your experience. She can be reached via Global.