WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The commanding officer of USS Curts (FFG 38) will be honored Oct. 2 at MANA's 19th Annual Las Primeras Awards Gala for being the first (la primera) Hispanic female to command a ship in the U.S. Navy.
Cmdr. Yvette Gonzalez Davids won the military category award for 2008, joining five other Latinas who are being recognized for achieving "firsts" in their respective fields, and making significant contributions to the nation.
"It is a pleasure to once again honor amazing Latinas who inspire and demonstrate the ability and strength of the Hispanic community," said MANA President and CEO, Alma Morales Riojas. "Las Primeras show that dreams can become reality and that adult and young Latinas do have role models who look and sound like them."
Riojas was especially pleased to have a Latina servicewoman in the list of honorees.
"The history of Latinas in service to our country dates back to the Civil War. Even so there is little written about these courageous women who are willing to put their life on the line for America," she said. "This is why having a Primera category for the military is so important and why we are so proud to honor Commander Davids achievements. Commander Davids has demonstrated that with the right education and training everything is possible."
Davids agreed with the need for role models, recounting hers as invaluable in shaping her life, especially her parents.
"It's important for our own personal and professional growth to be able to look around and find models of excellence. The greatest mentors of my life have been my parents, who challenged me to rise above mediocrity...and with the expectation that all things are possible," said Davids.
"In the Navy, I've been blessed to work with incredible leaders who have inspired me by their action, integrity and character. Each has left me with the understanding that with privilege comes responsibility, so I am proud to be receiving this MANA recognition - in the full awareness of my responsibility to mentor those that follow."
Being a Latina has also influenced her perspectives.
"It shaped my development and has influenced my perspective and my core beliefs," Davids said. She said time and experience has helped her to appreciate not only her own background, but also to value the Nation's diversity, saying she was thankful to be "from a country that is accepting of all backgrounds."
Davids encourages other young women and men to consider the Navy as a place to reach for their dreams.
"The United States Navy provided me...a purposeful existence where integrity, mutual respect and professionalism thrive. Where opportunities abound and where the very appreciation for the diversity in its Sailors allowed me and so many others like me to excel."
Working with MANA and participating in the Las Primeras Awards Gala is one way in which the Navy is working to spread the idea of reaching for dreams - through education.
MANA promotes educational leadership programs for Latinas and mentors young Latinas ages 11-18. These goals are in line with the Navy Diversity Directorate's K-10 Outreach Programs that seek to encourage youth to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, while raising Navy awareness.
MANA, a national latina organization, is a nonprofit, advocacy organization headquartered in Washington. With chapters across the country, it is the oldest national Latina membership organization in the United States. MANA, whose mission is to empower Latinas through leadership development, community service, and advocacy, envisions a national community of informed Latina activists working to improve the quality of life for all Hispanics.
The other women receiving awards at the 2008 Gala include Martha Tijerina, host of En San Antonio; Juliet V. Garcia, Ph.D., president, University of Texas at Brownville; Gloria Molina, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; Irma Garcia, Director of Athletics, St. Francis College, NCAA Division I; and Sonya E. Medina, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Director of Special Projects for the First Lady, The White House.
For information on other affinity groups and related awards, visit the Navy Diversity Web site, http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/Diversity/.
For more news from USS Curts, visit http://www.curts.navy.mil/.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.