JO in the Spotlight
By LTJG Shakeitha Lewis. Navy BFM Intern
In June of 2014 I received my selectee notification on BOL as an OCS Candidate with the 3100, Supply Corps designator. It took me a year and three non-select notifications before I finally got the news I desired. I enlisted in the Navy at the tender age of 18 from Houston, TX. I qualified for the Air Traffic Control rating, which I knew was a great job that could catapult me into a world of success if I chose to end my career in the Navy after my first enlistment. I served nine years as an Enlisted Sailor, completing successful tours at Naval Station Mayport, Tactical Air Squadron Two-One, deploying on the USS Kearsarge and the USS Bataan, and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans. During my enlisted tenure I took advantage of programs such as Tuition Assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill, and the NC PACE Program, which enables Sailor’s to continue their education in a class-like setting or via distance learning while deployed.
It was through these two programs that I was able to complete both a Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting, graduating Summa and Magna Cum Laude respectively, during my enlisted career, which ultimately led to fulfilling my dream of becoming a Naval Officer. Although the road presented a lot of challenges, it was through perseverance, dedication, determination, and consistency that I was able to achieve my dream. As a Naval Officer, I have realized that while the workload and responsibilities increase, the principals of what makes a great Sailor and Leader are the same regardless of rank. It was through the aforementioned traits coupled with Honor, Courage, Commitment, accountability, and mentorship that my transition into the officer ranks have been somewhat seamless.
While the Navy Core Values and personal traits such as accountability, dedication and consistency are geared more towards individualized characteristics, it is through mentorship that these traits can be maximized. The National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) has provided me with a safe-haven of senior and junior officers that I know I can seek both professional and personal advice. I did mention that my transition to the Officer ranks were somewhat seamless, but it has not been without challenges. However, when faced with adversity I know can seek mentorship from my NNOA family to develop positive solutions. I am grateful for my experiences as an Enlisted Sailor, and I heavily believe it is those experiences that have molded me to the officer that I am today. However, as I move through the ranks and the trials intensify, I am truly appreciative to have the NNOA as a lifelong tool in my toolbox and truly believe every officer should take advantage of the professional and personal development opportunities provided by this organization.