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Women's History Month: FLTCM April Beldo, CMDCM Jean Heitzman, LSC Latonya Starks, OS1 Jennifer Galvez and YN2 Tyquesha Hewitt

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."

Women's History Month Fleet Master Chief April Beldo graphic.

Fleet Master Chief April Beldo is currently serving as Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education (MPT&E) Fleet Master Chief.

Q: How did you decide to join the Navy?

A: After graduating from High School, I enrolled in Antelope Valley Community College, I wouldn't say I was totally focused, and I found myself getting more and more distracted from my studies.

I needed more structure and discipline in my life, so I decided to join the AIR FORCE... May 1983; Talked it over with my father, a retired Msgt(AF), and off to the recruiting station I went. Unfortunately they had met their female quota numbers already, so they were not accepting applicants at the time..... as I walked out the door, PS1 May was standing in the Navy Recruiting Doorway and the rest is history. Ten days later I was on my way to RTC Orlando, FL as a non-designated Airmen.

Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

A: I have had a lot of role models throughout the last 32years, junior to me and senior to me, male and female.

Anyone I could learn from, I consider them my Mentor. When I was selected to Chief Petty Officer, I remember AKCS Bobbie Shields, CVW11, USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, she helped me through 10 weeks of initiation in 1995, she would not let me give up, and offered some tough love. Also after I made AZC, my maintenance master chief, AFCM Emmanuel Ibarra, I thought I was going to get to chill for at least a couple of years before I had to be concerned with preparing for Senior Chief. The week after I made chief, he sat me down and asked me, "so what do you think you need to do now for senior chief"... I was blown away.. I wanted to say "chill" but that was not an option. There are so many more...
Three photo collage of FLTCM Beldo (L-R) speaking with Sailors; overseas all hands call; sitting in audience

Q: Can you share a story about someone, perhaps someone in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than perhaps even you ever thought you might?

A: I think it is important that I mention my Father and Mother (Ronald & Lila), from the day I announced I was going into the Navy, they have encouraged me to be the best, to give "My" 100% and don't ever let anyone tell you what you cannot do.

If you put your mind to it, work for it, you are going to be acknowledged. They have also told me, it is not always going to be about you, but you will know when your work has benefited the team and that is most important. Lastly, they have instilled "self-worth and confidence." So even on those days when you feel as if no one gets what you are trying to do, "Be Encouraged"!

Q: Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?

A: Having the opportunity to serve two times at the Quarterdeck of the Navy, RTC Great Lakes, IL.

To have the entire fleet represented in one location, preparing future Sailors for their Navy journey, watching them graduate every Friday... talk about motivating, then to return to the fleet, serve aboard a world class aircraft carrier USS CARL VINSON.... 18-25year olds, on the flight deck, day and night, no casualties, "Poetry in Motion." Does not get any better, standing in Hangar Bay 2, looking out across the Pacific, Atlantic Oceans, the Med ... I get paid to do this!

Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

A: Remembering, it is not about you, but about those you serve, being fair, consistent and honest in all your dealings with Sailors.

Lastly, understanding and remember, it is not a popularity contest, but about making decisions, sometimes hard, but best for the organization that will in turn provide Sailors with the opportunities to be as successful as they choose to be.