(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by Christine Rosalin
NAVFAC Pacific Public Affairs
Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific celebrated Women’s History Month by reflecting on the character and growth of the women in its organization.
This year’s theme, “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment,” means different things to different people, but to one Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) member it sums up what it means to serve in the Navy.
“I believe this year’s theme accurately represents what it means to serve in the military and our Navy core values,” said Capt. Cheryl M. Hansen, Pacific Fleet, deputy fleet engineer and liaison to NAVFAC Pacific. “To me, it means staying the course when the going gets tough and sticking to your ideals, orders and promises regardless of impact to one self.”
According to Hansen, she recalls a day that sticks out clearly in her memory when her character, courage and commitment were tested.
“One day while deployed, I had to deal directly with a rape case during the wee hours of the morning, escort a two-star admiral that afternoon and then later serve as the master of ceremonies on a very important day for the Seabees, their anniversary,” said Hansen, a native of Maysville, Ky.
“It was a long day and it took a lot of mental fortitude to overcome a very negative event just prior to a public time of celebration,” said Hansen. “This experience was an example of how I displayed courage and commitment, and it revealed how mentally prepared I was.”
Hansen said the strength of her character and commitment continued to develop as a result of those who supported and mentored her throughout her career of 25 years with the Navy.
“I am grateful to have a great spouse who has supported me throughout my career and two very loving kids who early on learned to take care of and be responsible for themselves,” said Hansen.
“I had peers and leaders who helped me succeed. I’m also thankful for the others before me who broke a glass ceiling for all women, for example, Rear Adm. Katherine L. Gregory and Rear Adm. Paula Brown. They were the first of the female admirals in the CEC, and I looked up to them as role models and watched them succeed.”
Hansen said having role models and mentors had a significant and positive influence on her.
“Knowing the positive impacts they’ve made in my life, I have a strong interest to mentor others,” said Hansen who currently mentors two female officers. “I take my role as a mentor very seriously.”
In addition to mentoring, Hansen said she is not in a rush to retire, but when the time comes she aspires to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses. She would especially like to encourage young women.
Hansen volunteers her time to participate in the Women’s Professional Network, a Navy affinity group and Navy mentor-ship.
According to Hansen, the Navy provided her many professional opportunities for which she is grateful. “I believe the Navy is one of the best organizations for women to succeed, and it is still one of the fairest systems that provide an opportunity to succeed based on merit.”
“I love the Navy and the opportunities it offers to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or background. Success is the result of commitment to what the Navy represents, which is service in the face of adversity.”