Women can succeed in a man’s world

Courtesy photo

As most women in certain career fields will agree, most days you’ll find that you’re the only woman in the room. Since I chose a career in engineering there were often few women in my classes in college, but generally I was not the only woman in the room.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from New Mexico State University (Go Aggie’s!), and accepting an internship with the Air Force Palace Acquire program, I was certainly the only woman engineer in the entire Engineering Flight right here at March Field back in 1997.

After leaving March, I was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and from there, moved to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and Aviano Air Base, Italy. In 2004 I found myself back at March once again, but in my first supervisory job.

On May 15, 2005 I became the first woman in Air Force Reserve Command history to become a civilian, Base Civil Engineer (BCE). After an overseas tour to Kadena AB, Japan, and Andersen AB, Guam, I returned to my position at March at the end of 2010, and was still the only woman in AFRC to be a civilian BCE.

I would be remiss if I did not thank both Maj. Gen. James Rubeor and Col. Richard Stevens, who had the confidence to promote me to BCE all those years ago, and all the commanders since then to place their trust in me.

While I can’t be 100 percent sure without thorough research, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I am the first woman in the entire Air Force to be a civilian BCE. A number of great, active duty, military women have been Civil Engineer Squadron commanders and BCEs, and I admit that an AFRC BCE doesn’t have the same flights as regular Air Force. So, the argument for not comparing apples to apples could be made. That said, my BCE umbrella encompasses a base fire department, base engineering flight, base environmental flight and base resources flight, which is no small task.

After 18 years of service with the Air Force it remains an honor to serve my country and my warriors. Today when I find myself the only woman in the room and the only one not in uniform I hardly notice. It seems those in uniform, whether traditional reservist, Air Reserve Technician or active duty Airman, hardly notice either, which is why I’m pretty sure that the Air Force made the right choice all those years ago and so did I.