Merit Badge Monday
As a member of The MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood, we are each given an opportunity to earn merit badges. It is sorta like scouts for grownups. And, what a great way to learn new things. Today, I earned my “Beginner” Merit badge titled, Her Story.
To Earn this badge, I needed to
- Research a powerful/influential woman that is still in her position of power.
- Where was she born? Where did she attend school? What sets her apart from others in her field? If there is a biography of your subject, read it.
I chose to learn about Admiral Michelle Howard. Not only is Admiral Howard the First Four Star Female of The Navy but she is also the first African-American to hold this title! Oh and if you can only imagine having that honor. She has been the Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa.
Howard was born in Riverside, California on April 30, 1960 to former U.S. Air Force master sergeant, Nick Howard, and his British wife, Phillipa. She is a 1978 graduate of Gateway High School in Aurora, Colorado. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 and from the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998 with a Masters in Military Arts and Sciences.
Howard knows exactly how far women have come in the world of defense over the past half-century. Lucia Graves Interviewed Admiral Michelle Howard last May and learned that “At the Leadership Summit for Women in National Security Careers in Arlington this April, she told the crowd that when she was just 12 years old, she knew she wanted to go to a service academy, but at the time they didn't accept women.” Her mother—whom Howard cites as her greatest role model and source of leadership inspiration—told her not to give up. "If you still want to when you're old enough to apply, and if they're still closed to women, we'll sue the government," she recalls her mom saying. (As it turned out, they didn't have to: The Naval Academy began accepting women in 1976, two years before Howard graduated from high school.)
When Michelle Howard was just three days into her new job as head of a U.S. Navy task force charged with countering piracy in the Arabian Sea, when a cargo ship sailing under a U.S. flag was hijacked by pirates. Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama, was taken hostage in the waters southeast of Eyl, Somalia, and transferred to a small life raft; it was Howard's job to get him back. She did (the incident later inspired the 2013 movie Captain Phillips), which was no minor feat. "There certainly wasn't anyone I could turn to and say, 'How do you rescue someone from a life raft? How do you do negotiations with pirates at sea?" “Howard recalled in an interview last year.” “It had never been done before."
What I admire about her the most is that she does not let anything hold her back and she encourages all woman to not allow critics or others hold you back.
“I found that women who choose to be stay-at-home moms deal with a set of critics. I have found women who go into the workplace and try to be a mom have a set of critics. I think as women, we just seem to have a set of critics. And so you work your way through. But I've also found that a lot of times in an organization, the barrier gets down to an individual. There's not a grand conspiracy going on. It's really one person with a set of beliefs, and you just have to take a deep breath, think about it, but have the courage to figure out how to get to resolution with that one person. Otherwise you end up being skeptical about mankind ... and you create this figure of "the man" in your head, and it really isn't that at all.”
I was not able to find any books written about Admiral Howard but I did enjoy the interviews and reading about the many awards and information on the United States Navy Website. Now if you ask me… which you didn’t.. But I am, gonna tell you anyway. Admiral Howard is one heck of a woman and I just had to share Her Story!
Now how about you? What is Your Story? How can you encourage others and how do you become a better person? We have this opportunity every day and what a blessing it is!