SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Navy joined four hundred participants from across the nation in celebrating the accomplishments of fourteen Asian American innovators during the 2012 Asian Heritage Awards held in San Diego, Calif., Sept. 15-16.
The awards, sponsored by the Asian Heritage Society, highlighted excellence in legal affairs, health and medicine, media and film, art and literature, cultural preservation, performing arts, military service, humanitarian outreach, and community service, as well as scholarship and special recognition award.
The Navy was honored and acknowledged for its nine years of support of the awards, which included a keynote address by Rear Adm. Peter Gumataotao, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 11 and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Strike Group.
During his speech, Gumataotao emphasized the critical need for the Navy to partner with organizations like the Asian Heritage Society to ensure the next generation of Sailors and officers are prepared for future technological challenges.
"We must build a path for the generation that is following us. We must inspire them," said Gumataotao. "We as leaders must continue to inspire with actions, not just words."
The two-day event concluded, Sept. 16 with a leadership breakfast panel on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) efforts and included representatives from Congress, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and the San Diego Unified School District.
Navy representatives included Capt. Elizabeth Gracia from the Navy Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Capt. Cynthia Macri, Diversity Advisor for the Chief of Naval Operations.
Speaking to a group of fifty students and community representatives, panel leaders shared ideas and experiences, including their thoughts on the current struggles preventing students from excelling in STEM fields.
"If children are not engaged by middle school in STEM education, by high school their chances of joining decrease, because the Navy is actively seeking STEM professionals," said Gracia. "They aren't prepared to pursue a technical career, and they subsequently are not prepared for a Navy career."
"Kids today are not prepared for the world," said Asian Heritage Society founder Leonard Novarro. "They have to be prepared in science and technology; they have to be prepared in the world of business and math. They also have to understand what it means to deal with different ethnicities and cultures, because they are going to be dealing with that in the future and if they aren't prepared, they are going to be left behind."
Novarro said events like the Asian Heritage Awards provide any opportunity for both the Navy and local communities to re-establish partnerships, ensuring the next generation can meet the challenges of tomorrow.
"The Navy has been a terrific partner, and we are really happy to be working with the Navy," said Novarro.
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For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Office of Diversity and Inclusion, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.