Women's History Month: Rear Admiral Nancy Norton
Navy leaders and pioneers
"From the Revolutionary War to current conflicts, women have played a crucial role in the security of our nation and the success of the U.S. Navy. Join us as we celebrate Women's History Month by profiling women leaders and pioneers across the Navy."
Q: How did you decide to join the Navy?
A: I became interested in joining the Navy early in High School, when I saw the ad campaign "Join the Navy and see the world." That appealed to me, as did the promise of funding for college, when I didn't think I would be able to afford it on my own. But after receiving scholarships for college, I started a pre-med program and forgot about the Navy for a few years. When I got to my senior year in college and realized that I would not be able to get scholarships for medical school, I decided to pursue the Military Medical Scholarship Program. From those discussions with recruiters, I ended up going to the Navy's Officer Candidate School, and decided not to pursue medicine, but instead found that I really enjoyed working in communications and computer networks.
Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?
A: My parents influenced my thinking from the time I was a small child, telling me that I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be if I worked hard at it. My Mom was a great role model for me. As a single mother in the early 1970's, she became a police officer as a way to make a decent living for our family. She was an early pioneer, as one of a very few women on the force at that time, and it was not easy for her. But she was tough and persistent, and I learned that I could be also, even when doing something very new. In my first tour in the Navy, I worked with a wonderful mentor and role model, CWO3 (Ret) Bobby Ravenkamp. She was one of the first women in ships, and she shared her experiences and lessons with me, and taught me a great deal technically, but more important, she taught me how to be a professional, and to promote and lead integration and teamwork across diverse groups. I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my career, with too many other wonderful mentors and role models to name them all, including a number of Chief Petty Officers, who taught me and guided me along the way. But two mentors that I learned tremendous lessons from while serving as their executive assistants are RADM (Ret) Betsy Hight, and ADM (Ret) Jonathon Greenert. They both taught me how to work hard and prioritize the efforts that are most important to our Navy and national security. They also taught me how to handle pressure, how to use the toughness and persistence that my Mom modeled for me, and how to treat people with respect and kindness, under any circumstances.