Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) celebrated women’s history month with a ceremony and cake-cutting held in the aft mess decks, March 27.
TR’s diversity committee organized the event, which featured the personal stories of four women stationed aboard TR that highlighted this year’s theme of character, courage and commitment.
One of the speakers, Lt. Cmdr. Angela Lefler, TR’s Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) Officer, believes those characteristics are indicative of women in the military.
“To me, being in the military appeals to a very specific type of woman: strong willed, courageous, impressive, and a leader,” said Lefler. “Every woman in here is, in her own way, a leader. You all have a chance to take what might be perceived as struggles and turn them into positive opportunities.”
Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Kemmia Flanagan believes the Navy can empower women and offer them the same opportunities as it does to men.
“We can, as women, rise to any challenge that the Navy gives or that anybody gives,” said Flanagan. “We can do just as much, we can get just as dirty, and we can fight just as hard and do the same job as our male counterparts on this ship.”
Chief Electrician’s Mate Andrella Pusha acknowledged not only how far women have come, but how they are still working to blaze new paths.
“Women, even though we may still represent the minority, don’t think for a second that our footprints are not followed,” said Pusha. “Our footprints are seen. Every day we’re knocking down a different statistic that no one probably thought about.”
Hearing others speak about their experiences really hit home, said event attendee Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Terri Polite.
“We’ve come a long way, and just to see and hear everyone’s story touched me. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who has felt this way as a woman,” said Polite.
Lt. j.g. Maria DeCristoforo, Deck Department’s Division Officer, discussed several women from the past who stepped outside gender roles and helped pave the way for women to be where they are today. For DeCristoforo, the same traits that helped these women break gender barriers are present in women serving today.
“This fortitude and strength of character is indicative of the women I see in today’s Navy,” said DeCristoforo. “These women serve us proud with honor, courage, and commitment. And I am glad to serve alongside them.”
Story and Photos by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jenna Kaliszewski, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs