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University of Michigan NROTC Unit Hosts Second Annual Women In Naval Service Symposium

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Story by PO1 Amanda Kitchner on 04/03/2019
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (NNS) -- University of Michigan's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit hosted their second annual Women in Naval Service (WINS) symposium for more than 150 midshipmen at the Graduate hotel, March 30.

"Every young midshipman and officer should aspire to be the best leader they can for their organization and their sailors," said Commanding Officer, University of Michigan NROTC, Capt. Larry Getz. "When thinking about setting the example,' you must consider what that actually looks like and how your seemingly small actions will influence those under your leadership. I hope the midshipmen who attended the symposium realize both the magnitude of their duty as officers as well as their capability to carry that weight or bare that burden."

WINS was held in conjunction with the U.S. Navy's observation of Women's History Month and provided midshipmen with the opportunity to interact and learn from female leaders from many key warfare areas that the midshipmen will likely work in.

"As we began reading the feedback we received in last year's post-survey, we wanted to expand the weekend to include Sunday sessions and allow our guests more opportunities for informal interaction and networking," said Midshipman 1/c Elizabeth Grabis, who was in charge of planning the event. "In particular, we wanted Sunday to include activities to build upon our practical knowledge for the future challenges and scenarios we will face in the fleet as junior officers."

The morning sessions of the symposium included presentations and Q&A sessions from senior officers in the service including discussions about difficulties and techniques for leadership. Cmdr. Leslie Slootmaker and Lt. Kimberly Bellis provided a frank session where midshipmen were encouraged to ask any question freely, and Lt. Jeanne Van Gilder hosted a session on the BUPERS personnel support structure with a focus on officer detailing and ship selection.

"I think all of us remember a time when we were completely unsure of what the future holds, and this conference was a chance for each Midshipmen to ask questions, both professionally and personally," said Cmdr. Maureen Studniarz, executive officer of the University of Oklahoma NROTC unit. "I also hope they walked away excited about their future because each of them have exciting times ahead of them!"

Mid-morning, Commanding Officer, Arizona State University NROTC, Capt. Andree Bergmann and Capt. Larry Getz provided a CO panel, giving guidance on what it takes to be a leader of many and how to help set the moral tone for your people.

"I want these midshipmen to walk away with the knowledge that it is ok to not always know all the answers, but that there are resources out there to help them. That they are not alone and that they can rely on each other to help find the way and that being a good leader is hard work and challenging and they will be prepared when the time comes," said Bergmann. "These events matter to all Midshipmen, female or male. Any chance they have to get outside their unit and school and see how others do things, exchange ideas and meet people is a good thing. They will all be in the fleet together and the chance to spend a little bit of time with your future shipmates can be a very powerful thing."

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Misty J. Posey, commanding officer of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion, spoke with the midshipmen about hidden influences on thinking, acting, and decision-making from the perspective of senior U.S. Marine Corps leadership.

"What we've implemented at the 4th Recruit Training Battalion is to look beyond your first instinct and internal bias that may come up in the selection process and instead make a concentrated effort to look at the performance of the recruit, kind of like a blind audition," said Posey during her session. "We all have instinctual bias, that's part of being human, but choosing to think critically and look beyond that is what makes someone a great leader."

The afternoon session hosted warfare area-specific discussions for different communities to touch on experiences that are unique to them as well as provide information for midshipmen looking to serve in those communities.

The first day of the symposium concluded with a dinner where the guest of honor, Sarah Rhoads, director of Amazon Air and former F/A-18 E/F pilot, provided a speech where she discussed her past as a pilot and how her lessons learned in the Navy helped her to establish herself in the civilian sector.

"I am extremely thankful for the time I spent in the Navy, the lessons I learned and the experience I gained was what helped me get to where I am today," said Rhoads. "I think it will be the same for you, each and every one of you have a bright future ahead both in and out of the service."

The second day of the symposium started bright and early with Big House PT hosted at Michigan Stadium. This training session featured a pull-up clinic with Lt. Col. Posey, and small group competitions including ammo can drills, sprints, push-ups, and other exercises.

Following PT, the midshipmen participated in a small group session with officer proctors and a Junior Officer Q&A session where midshipmen were encouraged to speak with JOs about challenges and situations they may face once they embark on their first assignments.

"The feedback we have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive as we look forward to planning next year's symposium," said Midshipman Grabis. "Most notably, how thankful people are for the friendships they were able to create and the knowledge and professional development they gained throughout the weekend."

The Navy ROTC program develops midshipmen mentally, morally and physically, to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values. The program provides college graduates an opportunity to commission as naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the naval service, and have potential for future development in mind and character, so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.

Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, supports 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy's Citizenship Development Program.

Bernacchi and his NSTC staff at Great Lakes and at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, also support Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp, at Great Lakes; NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities across the country; Officer Training Command (OTC) in Newport, R. I.; Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.

For more information about Navy ROTC, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/. For more information about NSTC, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/nstc/ or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/NavalServiceTraining/.
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For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.

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