NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations-directed Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Jackie DiRosa assumed duties as Fleet Master Chief, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, July 17, making her the first female to hold the office of a fleet-level master chief.
"I hope that I can be a role model that inspires young female Sailors to say, 'You know what? The Navy does have great opportunities, no matter what my background is, no matter what my gender is, my race; it doesn't matter,'" said DiRosa, who joined the Navy in 1980 as a hospital corpsman.
This is the second time in her career that DiRosa has set a precedent, having also served as the first female force master chief for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
"The opportunities are here; it was just a matter of time before someone broke through the ceiling," said DiRosa. "Since 1991 to '93, when we (Navy) started opening up combatant positions to women, huge changes have been happening to our Navy. If we don't take advantage of that, we only have ourself to blame. I hope to be that role model of inspiration for really all Sailors, not just our female Sailors."
Those she has worked with insist DiRosa earned the job through ability rather than to promote gender equality.
"I think it's about time," said Fleet Master Chief (AW/SW) Jon R. Thompson. "The female population represents over 20 percent of our total forces, and it's about time we shared the wealth."
Thompson also said that his relief, DiRosa, was ready for the job and the only advice he could pass on to her was to stay the course and enjoy it.
"Fleet Master Chief DiRosa is fully qualified. My boss, Adm. (Jonathan B.) Nathman wouldn't have given any candidate the job if they didn't have the skill set, qualifications, maturity and wisdom to come into this position. A lot of the people that Fleet Master Chief DiRosa is going to work with she's been working with over the last four years. They know her professionalism, they know her tenacity; it (gender) is not going to be an issue."
Over the next two years of her tenure, DiRosa already has some ideas on how she is going to take on the responsibility of her new role.
"I have lots of plans in mind. The first and foremost is to be out and about and have a lot of all hands calls," she said. "I want to see all of the great things our Sailors are doing in all the different areas of the Navy."
While she works to grow into her new position, DiRosa hopes that Sailors will take her example to heart and work hard to accomplish their own goals.
"The Navy offers us great opportunities, and it's those who want to take advantage of those opportunities that reap the great rewards," she said. "I want to encourage everyone out there to seek out those opportunities even though they may be a little scary. I look forward to getting out and meeting people in the fleet."
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.