Sailors Take Part in National Latina Women's Conference

Story Number: NNS110830-05Release Date: 8/30/2011 2:06:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Adrian Melendez, Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (NNS) -- The Inter-American Defense College director and Sailors from Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Phoenix and Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC), Albuquerque, participated in the annual MANA, A National Latina Organization, Hermanitas Summer Leadership Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., Aug. 10-13.

MANA's mission is to empower Latina women through leadership development, community service and advocacy, as well as the mentorship of "Hermanitas," who are young women ages 11-18.

"The Navy is a proud partner and supporter of MANA because we too encourage positive leadership, service to community and to our nation," said Rear Adm. Moira N. Flanders as she addressed the organization during the Luncheon Honoring Women in Government, Military and Civilian Careers.

During her speech, Flanders stressed the options available to the young women in attendance and the strides the Navy has made to allow them the opportunity to succeed.

"When MANA was created back in 1974, women were not able to serve aboard surface ships. Now, they are on ships, flying planes, and will now be on submarines," she said. "You have so many options available to you and you can be anything you want to. But it takes education to get there."

During the three-day event, Sailors from the NRD and NOSC hosted a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workshop for the Hermanitas at the University of New Mexico. During the workshop six groups had to build a two-foot tower resembling the Washington Monument in 30 minutes using only the supplies provided to them, consisting of popsicle sticks, drinking straws, pipe cleaners, marshmallows, construction paper and Play-Doh.

The girls had to work together as a team to construct the free-standing tower using minimum materials, and had to withstand a simulated earthquake and hurricane.

The purpose of the workshop was not only for the girls to have fun, but to show them the importance STEM plays in their lives now and in the future.

"The Navy is always becoming more and more advanced in technology, and these women are going to be the future leaders we will need in those disciplines," said Flanders. "We need to ensure that we get the word out that we have places for them in the Navy and we welcome them."

Sailors were present at most of the organization's events to talk to those in attendance and to show the Navy's support of women and minorities around the nation.

"They [the Sailors] were an absolute wonderful example of leadership. It was obvious that our girls were in love with the Navy and in love with the team that came here to work with them on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math project," said Alma Morales Riojas, MANA President and CEO.

Riojas also added that the presence and example of the Navy representatives spoke volumes of the Navy's dedication to help mentor and educate people of all walks of life and ages, and especially the girls in attendance.

"The fact that the Department of the Navy is willing to work and spend time with the girls says a lot. Not just to MANA, but our whole community," said Riojas. "The effort and expertise of the Navy volunteers out here was tops. I think the men and women who came out here from the Navy are incredible role models for everyone here. I am inspired by the men and women in uniform, and I want the girls to see that these are our heroes."

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