MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Commander Naval Surface Force, Atlantic hosted the 2011 Surface Force Women's Waterfront Symposium on board Naval Station Mayport, Fla., for members of the surface community, June 13.
The symposium served to allow women on the surface side of the Navy the opportunity to hear from successful female "Surface Warriors" - both officer and enlisted - and to collectively discuss in an open forum some of the unique challenges they face, allowing for an honest exchange of experiences and insights with positive role models.
Rear Adm. Victor G. Guillory, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command; commander, U.S. 4th Fleet; kicked off the symposium by commending the attendees for addressing the needs of all Sailors and recognizing the important role females play in today's Navy.
Capt. Mary Jackson, Naval Station Norfolk commanding officer, provided the keynote address and shared how she has dealt with the trials and tribulations common to female Sailors. She discussed life lessons of being a single parent at sea as well as understanding personal thresholds.
"My thresholds have almost been breached a few times, and I had no idea that I would still be in the military after all this time; and if you ask me why I am still here, I would say the people," said Jackson. "We have amazing people in the Navy, and I have learned so much from them over the years. I didn't come in for that reason but it is why I stay."
Attendees had the opportunity to speak with a panel of successful female leaders. The panel included both officer and enlisted Sailors, and disussed women at sea on ships and submarines, planning pregnancy, how to be a successful leader, focusing on goals, uniforms, mentoring and many other topics.
Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Toni Collins, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24, said the symposium was helpful for her because she was able to hear from her senior leaders.
"I think it is great to hear these women tell their stories and see how in a lot of ways they are similar to mine," said Collins.
Throughout the rest of the day the women met with a career and family balance panel. They had the opportunity to talk about updates from the Child and Youth Programs office and the Office of Women's Policy. In addition they were able to meet with detailers to discuss career opportunities.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Amber Hernandez, USS Farragut (DDG 99), said she was very excited to share best practices with female surface warriors.
"Events like these help build my character as a female and soon-to-be leader in the Navy," said Hernandez. "It's a great community feel for everyone to get together and talk. The panel was full of women of different ranks and rates. That helped me tremendously because I had the chance to hear different views from different career types of women. Overall, it was huge help for me and I hope everyone in attendance took as much away as I did."
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.