When I joined my L3Harris team of technical trainers in 2019, I was excited to train sailors as I did when I was a Master Training Specialist while serving in the U.S. Navy. I aspired to work in this role and felt it aligned perfectly with my military background and experience.
I've always been intrigued with design and improving processes. As a child, I watched my father perform his duties as a mechanic, so I was used to a hands-on approach. It was then I realized that the best way to learn how to do something was to do it yourself.
I took that knowledge with me as I pursued a career in the military, honorably serving 14 years in the U.S. Navy. As a female in the service, I was constantly reminded of my gender, and often felt the need to prove myself. Overcoming self-doubt, I earned my certification to become a Master Training Specialist and achieved significant milestones throughout my naval career with guidance and support from several mentors, including my grandmother, Ruth.
She is undoubtedly the most influential mentor in my life. She is always available to listen when I need advice and has supported all of my decisions. She has also imparted upon me her experiences.
When I was a child, she explained to me how her experience as an African American woman was different from mine. She shared past experiences about discrimination and urged me to pursue opportunities that were not available to her when she was younger. That's in part why I'm so proud to be able to do the work I am doing now.
When I found out that I was one of the first African American females in my role at L3Harris, to be honest, I was shocked. I'm grateful that my supervisor and our program's associate manager believed in my ability to serve as an asset to the team. I learned from this experience that building a diverse company doesn't just happen overnight, but rather it must be influenced at all levels: from leadership, recruiters, hiring managers and employees.
As L3Harris celebrates Black History Month, I encourage everyone to foster conversations on diversity and respect. Question any stereotypical thoughts you might have about someone because of the way they look and implement changes so that our work environment reflects the many qualified black faces of our society. Also, this month let's reflect on where we have progressed from, appreciate the sacrifices that were made and continue to listen to and learn from our mentors, like Ruth.