By NC1(SW/AW) Brenda V. Chavez
ISIC Command Career Counselor
the From Letters Latina Brenda visiting a Mexican animal
Brenda Chavez photographed with siblings and father during a visit to hometown of
park with her father, Tiburcio
McAllen, Texas. (L-R) Diana Jewell, Laura Chavez, Tiburcio Chavez, Brenda, and
Chavez at the age of two, 1984.
Iwas born and raised in McAllen, Texas.
I can’t say that it just came to me one day
My parents separated during my childhood,
or that it was because of one thing or one person.
and I was raised by a single father of four
I was influenced by many things and I felt that in
girls. I believe that he did the best that he could
that moment I had one of two choices; transition
with what he knew in order to raise us.
back to being a civilian or become someone that
He brought us to the United States permanently
could influence change. I wanted to be a better
in the early 90s and did everything possible to enroll
version of myself. One that others could look up
us in school and provide an opportunity to
to and that my family could be proud of.
education. He was not a U.S. citizen, at the time, but
There were many challenges along the way.
rather lived in the U.S. as an undocumented
Some more bearable than others, but above all,
I’ve overcome all obstacles in my way. I chose to
Thinking back, this was not a normal thing
rise to the occasion, instead of sinking with the
for a Mexican man to take on. Typically, in our
problems. Some of the worst times in my
culture where it is expected for women to raise
career served as life lessons, and have molded
their children. I am extremely grateful for the
me into the leader I have become.
sacrifices that he made in order for all four of us
Brenda onboard the USS Peleliu LHA-5,
Being a woman in a male-dominated
to succeed. My father was forced to drop out of
leaving for Western Pacific Deployment
workforce is a challenge in itself, but the strength
school early in his life.
2006. With best friend, Information
of the women that came before me has given me
He made it very clear that education was the
Systems Technician Second Class Erika
the drive to continue to face the challenges
only way to a better life and the path to success.
ahead. Knowing that they have been able to face
I never forgot his words and as I grew to be a
the demands in today’s military keeps me
young adult, I didn’t know if I would make it to
life seem easy and exciting. The stories about the
motivated to strive each day to do just as they
college. I then evaluated my options. I wanted to
people she met and the places she had seen,
see places I could only dream of back home. I
served as a catalyst for the journey I was about
Today, the best part of my job are the people
needed to be cultured and I knew there was
to embark. The decision to enlist completely
I get to work with. I learn something from each
more to life than my little hometown.
changed my life for the better.
individual. Diversity is incredible and the Navy does
Diana, my oldest sibling, had recently
I will be honest. In the beginning, the military
an amazing job at being an all-inclusive force. I can
enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was fulfilling her
was not my first career choice. I viewed it as a
proudly say that I am part of the “World’s Greatest
enlistment at the NATO base in Lisbon, Portugal
stepping stone and a doorway to success. It
at the time I decided to enlist. She had freed
wasn’t until my second enlistment that I realized
Want to comment or have any questions on
herself of financial burden and made independent
this may be a rewarding career path.
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36 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 25, No. 2, 2019