NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailors volunteered at the 14th Annual Hampton Roads Youth Leadership Conference at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Va., April 9.
TR Sailors handled registering more than 500 students prior to the start of the summit, which was aimed at mentoring at-risk students in the Hampton Roads area.
Many of the young people who attended the event are from single-parent or economically or situationally challenged families. The Sailors also used their military training to reach out to the students.
"Being in the military, we've been trained with leadership in mind to be able to give these young people proper guidance," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Petricia Pittman, volunteer. "The mentorship program we have on the Theodore Roosevelt is a great program."
Lt. Cmdr. Karen E. Eifert, USS Theodore Roosevelt public affairs officer, participated in a mentorship panel with two members of the National Naval Officers Association, as well as leaders from other Norfolk community youth outreach organizations.
The panel members were all recognized for their efforts toward mentoring local youth. During the panel discussion, members shared their contact information and the ways they give back to the community.
Eifert used her own experience growing up in a foster care program to help relate with the students, and used her military career as a positive example of what these children can accomplish if they make the right choices in life.
"We want to let the students know that we understand the difficulties they face, and that there are productive ways to get through them," said Eifert. "I stressed getting a good education, being good stewards of their communities, and avoiding teen pregnancies. The discipline of the military has been great for me, and it can be good for them as well."
TR Sailors were also on hand to answer questions and share their own experiences dealing with challenges. According to Kevin W. Monroe, principal of B. T. Washington High School, having Sailors present allowed students a chance to see what they can achieve.
"I tell my students as you prepare to leave high school, your options are to join the work force, go to college, or join the military," said Monroe. "So having military members here represents one of the options our students have."
Rep. Bobby Scott, of Virginia, said the Sailors made a substantial difference in the future of the young people they met at the event.
"I was very pleased to see the members of the military, particularly the Sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt, participating in this event today," said Scott. "As strong positive role models, they have the ability to significantly impact the lives of these young men and women. We are committed to helping every young person in the Hampton Roads area get the most benefit possible from their education, so they can develop into the strong leaders of our future."
Theodore Roosevelt is currently undergoing its scheduled mid-life Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipyard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. During the 39-month maintenance period, TR's fuel will be replenished and significant upgrades will be made to the ship's combat and communication systems to extend the ship's service life for 25 or more years. All Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through RCOH near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
For more information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Karen Eifert, TR public affairs officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/, or visit TR's Facebook page "USS Theodore Roosevelt."