(Photo credit: Forbes.com)
“Once you have attained knowledge you cannot go back to ignorance.”
–Admiral Michelle J. Howard
February is Black History Month, and all month long we’ll be highlighting African American women who have defeated the odds, dreamed big, and paved the way for girls and women to follow in their footsteps. The best part? They’re all Girl Scout alumnae!
We’re kicking things off today with the amazing Admiral Michelle J. Howard, who has served in the United States Navy since 1982 and is the highest-ranking woman in American naval history. Michelle also has countless “firsts” under her belt: not only is she the first woman in the U.S. Navy’s 236-year history to be promoted to four-star admiral, but she also, in 1999, became the first African American woman to command a naval ship.
Over a span of three decades, Howard has continuously shown perseverance and bravery in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Her shining example has helped change perceptions about what women can accomplish when they follow their passions, never give up, and always strive to be their best.
Admiral Howard attributes many of the values that helped her succeed to her time in Girl Scouting.
"For me, Girl Scouts was about friendship and learning—mostly learning about ourselves and that we could do anything if we worked as a team," she says.
"My favorite camp memory was an orienteering weekend. Our troop split into two teams, and we laid a 10-mile trail and put three distinctive markers (that we made) at waypoints. The next day, we traded routes and had to hike the other team's trail and find the markers. There is no end of satisfaction knowing that, with a compass and friends, you don't have to get lost in the woods."
And that's the lesson that has stuck with Admiral Howard.
"In life, with a moral compass and friends, you can find your trail to success."
Note: The views expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy.