My Coast Guard

Women in the fleet reflect on opportunity, and how we are “Stronger Together” 

By Patrick Ferraris, Coast Guard Office of Civil Rights   

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We round up Women’s History Month with our third part of a three-part series of interviews highlighting just a few of the remarkable women in the Coast Guard and the stories behind their service.  

EMCS Baby Scott and ohana (family) celebrating at her advancement ceremony at CG Base Honolulu (U.S. Coast Guard Photo).Name: Senior Chief Petty Officer Baby Scott 
Duty Title: Electricians mate, Asset Manager for the Ice Breaker, Buoy, and Construction Tender Product Line. 
Duty Location: Surface Force Logistics Center, Alameda, CA 

What inspired you to join the Coast Guard? 
 
I experienced a lot of social barriers and disadvantages growing up which limited the opportunities available to me. I joined the Coast Guard and became an Electrician’s Mate because I wanted to force myself out of what I was used to; to get out of my comfort zone and try a profession that I never thought I would do. 

What excites you about the future for women in the Coast Guard? 
 
I’m excited knowing that the Coast Guard continues to embrace diversity and inclusion and strives to create an environment where all individuals are respected, empowered, and valued. 

Please click here to read more about Senior Chief Scott.

Lt. Cmdr. Laura Foster and son Harrison Rudy say goodbye prior to USCGC William Hart’s 36-day Expeditionary Patrol to American Samoa.Name: Lt. Cmdr. Laura Beth Foster 
Duty Title: Commanding Officer 
Duty Location: USCG Cutter William Hart, homeported in Honolulu 

What inspired you to join the Coast Guard? 
 
When I was in sixth grade, my grandparents had friends who had a granddaughter in the Coast Guard. Their granddaughter, then Lt. Cmdr. Joanna Nunan, took time out of her busy schedule to talk to me and sent me a package with information about the Coast Guard Academy. This is when I became extremely interested in attending the Academy and later ended up graduating from the Academy in 2008. 
 
What does the phrase “Stronger Together” mean to you? 
 
You can’t make it far in life without the help of others. I’ve had leaders throughout my career who have taught me a tremendous amount and have helped me navigate tough times. As a woman in the Coast Guard, I believe “Stronger Together” means that we should build each other up and make things better for the next generation. When I see women doing great things in this Service, it makes me extremely proud. I love to see women cheering each other on and being excited for each milestone and “first” we knock off the list. 
 
Do you have a mentor who has inspired you or impacted your Service? 
 
Early in my career, I was nervous to reach out to senior officers for insight into personal or professional goals. One person who is a constant “cheerleader” for me is Lt. Cmdr. Ben Leuthold, my commanding officer on Coast Guard Cutter Orcas when I was the executive officer. We and our crew went through a lot of trials and tribulations, but he never forgot to acknowledge my work and dedication to the team. Recently, I’ve been in more contact with senior females who I look up to and know that they have my best interest in mind. Through my own experience, I learned to reach out to more junior females, both officer and enlisted, to check-in with them so they are not hesitant to ask me questions, as mentorship is a two-way street. 

Read more about Lt. Cmdr. Foster here.  

Lt. Cmdr. Caroline Kearney is currently the Executive Officer at Coast Guard Aviation Technical Training Center, Elizabeth City, NC (U.S. Coast Guard Photo).Name: Lt. Cmdr. Caroline Kearney 
Duty Title: Executive officer 
Duty Location: Coast Guard Aviation Technical Training Center, Elizabeth City, North Carolina 

Has joining the Coast Guard helped shape your identity as a person? 
 
The Coast Guard has helped me find a purpose, passion, and family. When my service in the Coast Guard ends, I’ll take those with me. I’ve found friends that are like family, and friends that became family. I met my husband while at the Coast Guard Academy who is also an active-duty Coast Guard pilot. Together, we’ve navigated two military careers, and added two young sons to our family. 

The Coast Guard has a history of strong women members. How have they helped pave a path for you in the Coast Guard? 
 
I am able to have a Coast Guard career, be a mother, and be a military spouse all at the same time. I owe not having to “choose” to those who came before me. 
 
What excites you about the future for women in the Coast Guard? 
 
I’m excited for the continued modernization of Coast Guard policies that impact women and their service retention rate. The updates to co-location policy and primary/secondary caregiver leave are examples of modernized policy that I have personally benefited from. 

Read more about Lt. Cmdr. Kearney here

Name: Petty Officer Second Class Julie Nguyen 
Duty Title: Intelligence Specialist 
Duty Location: United States Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C. IS2 Julie Nguyen celebrates Rear Adm. Huan Nguyen's promotion ceremony as he becomes the first Vietnamese-American admiral in the U.S. Navy, Oct. 2019 (U.S. Coast Guard Picture).

What is meaningful to you about currently serving in the Coast Guard? 
 
The Coast Guard recognizes and values greater diversity within the organization, and all ratings within the Service are open to women. Looking back, women serving in the Coast Guard didn’t always have these opportunities available to them. The legacy of the women who broke barriers and set us on the right path towards ensuring the Service mirrors the make-up of the American population is important to me. 
 
Has joining the Coast Guard helped shape your identity as a person? 
 
Joining the Coast Guard has definitely shaped my identity as a person and it’s an honor to represent the Coast Guard. I take great pride in putting on my uniform and serving this country and hold myself to a high standard, in and out of uniform. I strive to maintain a devotion to duty at all times, whether that means keeping my boots shiny and my uniform squared away, working my hardest, or speaking up when I see something wrong or something that can be fixed. 

The Coast Guard has a history of strong women members. How have they helped pave a path for you in the Coast Guard? 

I am thankful to all those who have paved the way for me to be where I am today, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve. To be a part of the legacy of strong female members within the Coast Guard, and building upon the strengths and achievements of the those before me, is a special privilege that I also hope inspires other young women and underrepresented individuals to serve in the Coast Guard. 

Read more about Petty Officer 2nd Class Nguyen here

MKC Holly Beck adjusts a hose that connects the air shutdown housing to the turbo on a 6V92TA Detroit Diesel engine (U.S. Coast Guard Photo).Name: Chief Petty Officder Holly Beck 
Duty Title: Engineering Petty Officer 
Duty Location: Station Gloucester, Massachusetts  

What inspired you to join the Coast Guard? 
 
I had a close-knit group who were either in the Coast Guard reserves or prior active duty and they expressed to me that joining the Coast Guard was a great stepping-stone after high school. I knew my path didn’t lead me towards college, so I joined the Coast Guard. 
 
What is meaningful to you about serving in the Coast Guard? 
 
I’ve never focused on the fact that I’m a woman in a male-dominated career or rating. What’s most important to me is that I do my job well enough and with enough care and concern that my subordinates, peers, and supervisors trust and depend on my knowledge and input and that they feel I can be relied upon no matter what. 

What excites you about the future for women in the Coast Guard? 
 
It’s already happening right now, but as time goes on and more women join the Service, especially those who choose ratings that are historically male dominated, that women are looked up to for reasons other than she’s a “woman in the military.” Rather, they are looked up to because they are great at their job, they are great leaders, they look out for their people, and they’re crucial to the mission. 

Read more about Chief Beck here.  

BM1 Sydney Adams is currently a Boatswain’s Mate serving on CGC ESCANABA homeported in Boston, MA (U.S. Coast Guard Photo).Name: Petty Officer First Class Sydney Adams 
Duty Title: Boatswain’s Mate 
Duty Location: Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba based in Boston, Massachusetts 

Do you have a mentor that has inspired you or impacted your Service? 
 
I’ve had so many mentors of varying ratings and ranks over the years who provided guidance, encouragement, and more importantly, believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Receiving mentorship soon became this leadership salad bar where I was able pick and choose the right leadership style that fit how I wanted to lead and then transitioned to mentoring when my mentorship was being sought out. It allowed me to pass on valuable and timeless advice and encouragement that I received previously. It’s so important for women in the service to not only seek out mentorship but to also be brought into it. 
 
The Coast Guard has a history of strong women members. How have they helped pave a path for you in the Coast Guard? 
 
My first unit was the Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, and I was on deck force. Our entire A-Gang was women. Seeing women in engineering is rare in general, but so early on in my career I got to experience an entire shop “keep the air blowin’ and the water flowin.’” Having so many strong role models around gave me a standard to strive for and the balance of being a female Coastie. 
 
What excites you about the future for women in the Coast Guard? 
 
The underway opportunities that are becoming more available for women excites me about the future. Hopefully in the next couple of years this will become one of those “well years ago…” kind of stories we tell on a late night all-female bridge watch. Ladies (special shout-out to my BM’s) get yourselves underway and don’t let it intimidate you. You’re more than ready for the challenge, reward, and adventure of that afloat job! 

Read more about Petty Officer 1st Class Adams here