Rear Admiral Christina M. "Tina" Alvarado, Deputy Commander, Navy Medicine East
Why did you decide to join/serve the Navy?
After a few years of experience as a critical care nurse, I decided that I wanted to make a bigger difference in the lives of my patients and decided to pursue positions in health policy. I was working on Capitol Hill for the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and met veterans of all recent wars, many of whom were catastrophically disabled by their war wounds.
Yet they fought on, had a fervent love of life and seemingly knew no limits. I decided that if they could continue to serve by fighting for veterans issues, then I could at least serve one weekend a month in the Reserves.
I was awe-struck by their energy and passion for improving the lives of the veterans who would come after them. While working in health policy, I continued to keep my clinical skills current by moon-lighting at a community hospital. My new veteran friends convinced me that joining the Reserves would be a great way to keep my clinical skills state of the art and serve my country. I was sold! Thus began my Navy career which started with a desire to serve and soon become a passion.
Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you?
I have been blessed to have many mentors, role models and cheerleaders from a very young age: family members, who became interwoven into the fabric of my being, my heart and my soul. For it is the family nucleus that has the most profound impact on the women we become.
My maternal grandmother was one such pioneer. She married a Mexican immigrant who passed away at an early age after losing a battle to alcohol dependence. Overnight she became a single parent, with total responsibility for my father and his sister. She had to fight hard to make a good life but she was determined to do so. This was Washington, DC in the 1940s. Women did not work much outside the home. Capitol Hill and the US Congress were in her back yard. At the time, only men held jobs as Congressional staff. Somehow she convinced a Congressman to hire her and she became one of the first women to work as Congressional staff. Her role paved the way for many others and years later, my Dad, me, my sister Donna and my sister Susan all held positions of significant seniority on Capitol Hill. I worked in both the House and the Senate.
All women today come into the world on the shoulders of the ones who came before them. From the earliest suffragettes to the first woman to travel to space - and all the delightful and fierce females in between, including my grandmother, mother and sisters. I ask you to recall the women heroes of your own personal story and join me in recognizing the important contributions women have made in the past. As role models I call upon you to make an impact on the life of another woman.