By Alyssa T, Senior Girl Reporter
Special thanks to the Northrop Grumman Corporation and MCAGCC for making this day possible. A very special thank you to Captain Terry Traylor for facilitating the planning and execution of this fantastic opportunity for girls.
On May 16, 2016 a group of female students from nearby schools, including Nellie Coffman Middle School, Painted Hills Middle School and Xavier College Prep visited the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) Twentynine Palms, or simply 29 Palms, for a spectacular day of fun. This event was the first annual Classroom to Career: A Day of Empowerment at 29 Palms. The girls got a behind-the-scenes look at over 130 different jobs, including STEM and medical fields, at the base and met several powerful women in the armed forces.
I am lucky. I’m the daughter of Captain Terry Traylor, USMC Operations Officer, Delta Company, Communications Training BN (Battalion), but let’s just call him Captain Traylor. He’s the man who spent a year coordinating a very unique event just for girls like me and I was honored to help envision, plan and guide the students who came to explore the 29 Palms Marine base in Twentynine Palms, Ca.
First, my dad (who works as a Captain in the Communication Training Battalion on the base) and I showed up early to finish the media package and brochures for the event on the computer, and we went to his office. His office is inside of the only school on the base, and it was really cool to see inside the long hallways and offices. We then went to another building to set up the classroom for the all-female discussion panel of the event, and worked with the base to give the girls clearance to enter.
After that, it was time for fun. I introduced myself to the other girls at Nellie Coffman, and then we went over to the classroom my dad and I had reserved. The girls got to meet Navy and Marine Corps women with jobs that included being a cook, a policewoman, video-technical producers, business professionals, medical/health professionals, and cyberspace operations engineers. During the Q&A part of the panel discussion, the girls asked these military women questions about what they did and how they got there.
The next activity was one of two STEM sites. The first was at the Communication Training Battalion (the unit that hosted our visit) where there was a live demonstration of cyberspace information traveling over radio antennas. The second was a visit to the 23rd Dental Battalion, which provides comprehensive dental care to active duty personnel, where the girls got to meet dentists and dental specialists on the base.
Commander Preston Briggs, who is their Company Commander, told the girls, “There’s no job in the navy that you can’t do. Every field in the Navy is open to women.”
After the behind-the-scenes visits, everybody moved to the chow hall, which is where the marines eat on the base, and sat with other women in technical areas and military jobs for a “power lunch.”
There were electronic mechanics and cyber students, and women who worked in all the areas of STEM. Two Lieutenant Colonels, Lieutenant Colonel McHale (the Commanding Officer of Logistics Battalion 7) and Lieutenant Colonel Ashbacher (Officer in Charge of the Staff Judge Advocate, are two of the most powerful women on the base and they visited the girls during their lunch.
Lt. Col. McHale said, “It was great having the girls today, we wanted them to know that the military is for them and women can achieve any rank, any position just like men.”
After the power lunch finished, the program ended. I got to stay (along with the other Girl Reporters) to talk to the official reporter on base. He gave us some good tips on how to structure a report and interview, and then we headed home. My dad and I talked about how to improve the program for next year, and about all the volunteers and fun we had putting everything together. It didn’t matter whether you were a Girl Reporter, a regular girl, or a volunteer who put together the event-everybody had a fantastic time!
Did you know that at 29 Palms alone, there are over 136 different jobs on base? Every single one of those jobs can be filled by women. The opportunities are endless, and yet there is only one woman for every 150 men! Studies have shown that girls learn best and thrive in all-girl learning environments, which is why Classroom To Career visits like our 29 Palms tour are so important. These visits and meeting female role models help girls explore their potential without judgment from peers or boys.
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