An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Space: A Woman’s Frontier

U.S. Space Force Maj. Danielle Stewart (left), 55 CTS Assistant Director of Operations, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Sarah Rodriguez (right), Delta 5 Weather Flight Commander, engage with children at a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics (STEAM) event hosted at the Vandenberg base library as part of Women’s History Month March 28, 2023, at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. The two assisted more than 15 children, ages 7-11, on the construction and characteristics of a comet, the different phases on the moon, and the creation of the numerous constellations we see in the night sky. (U.S. Space Force photo by Major Stacie Shafran)

(From left to right) U.S. Space Force Capt. Kylie Kester, 55th Combat Training Squadron, U.S. Air Force Capt. Sarah Rodriguez, Delta 5 Weather Flight Commander, U.K. Royal Air Force Wing Commander Victoria Miller, Combined Space Operations Center Strategic Plans Division chief, and U.S. Space Force Maj. Danielle Stewart, 55 CTS Assistant Director of Operations, pose for a picture prior to an all-female CSpOC crew shift March 22, 2023, at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. These women represent half of the crew members who volunteered to be part of the CSpOC’s first all-female crew in honor of Women’s History Month. (U.S. Space Force photo by Maj. Stacie Shafran)

(From left to right) U.S. Space Force Capt. Kylie Kester, 55th Combat Training Squadron, U.S. Air Force Capt. Sarah Rodriguez, Delta 5 Weather Flight Commander, U.K. Royal Air Force Wing Commander Victoria Miller, Combined Space Operations Center Strategic Plans Division chief, and U.S. Space Force Maj. Danielle Stewart, 55 CTS Assistant Director of Operations, pose for a picture prior to an all-female CSpOC crew shift March 22, 2023, at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. These women represent half of the crew members who volunteered to be part of the CSpOC’s first all-female crew in honor of Women’s History Month. (U.S. Space Force photo by Maj. Stacie Shafran)

U.S. Space Force Maj. Danielle Stewart (left), 55 CTS Assistant Director of Operations, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Sarah Rodriguez (right), Delta 5 Weather Flight Commander, engage with children at a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics (STEAM) event hosted at the Vandenberg base library as part of Women’s History Month March 28, 2023, at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. The two assisted more than 15 children, ages 7-11, on the construction and characteristics of a comet, the different phases on the moon, and the creation of the numerous constellations we see in the night sky. (U.S. Space Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Luke Kitterman)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. – In honor of Women’s History Month, members of the Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC) organized the first all-female operations crew at the CSpOC here March 22, 2023.

A CSpOC operations crew consists of multiple combat mission-ready positions all working together 24/7 to provide tailored space effects on demand in support of combatant commanders, allied partners, the joint force, and the nation.

These are the women who filled the female operations crew shift, and the positions they held:

  • Wing Commander Victoria “Vicky” Miller, Chief, Current Operations (CCO): Commands the crew as they perform combat operations and monitors the status of forces ensuring theater support and overall space domain awareness.
  • Master Sgt. Denene Towne, Deputy Chief, Current Operations (DCCO): Responsible to the CCO for operational crew readiness. Assesses real-time changes in the status of global space forces and provides timely, actionable recommendations to the CCO.
  • Maj. Danielle “Dani” Stewart and Capt. Kylie Kester, Theater Watch Chief (TWCH): Monitors the health and status of all assets attached or assigned to the Commander, Combined Force Space Component Command. Assesses mission impact from changes in the space situational environment.
  • Capt. Sarah Rodriguez, Weather Duty Officer (WDO): Provides situational awareness of space and terrestrial weather to crew members and external organizations, and creates environmental assessments for missile warning, space domain awareness, and space system anomalies.
  • 2nd Lt. Lauren Turner and 2nd Lt. Melonie Mallette, Senior Intelligence Duty Officer (SIDO), and Tech. Sgt. Reyna Rivera, Intelligence Duty Officer (IDO): Provides intelligence support to the operations floor, including worldwide launch reporting, threat analysis, and theater updates.

Everyone who participated in the Women’s History Month crew was a volunteer, and the CSpOC had no problems finding people willing to be part of this unique event.

“The women’s crew shift was really a grassroots effort, and the outpouring was really great,” Stewart said. “There were multiple people in each position who wanted the opportunity to do it.”

While the all-female crew was a first of its kind for the CSpOC, none of these women are a first in their positions, a testament to inclusivity of the Space Force, and a reason some of the women on the crew chose to join the Air Force or Space Force in the first place.

“I first thought about joining the military when I was a Sophomore in High School," Turner said. “I had a friend applying to the Naval Academy, and I had never thought about joining the military, but I thought it would be a good fit for me because I like structure. I had no interest in joining the Navy or Army, and the Air Force had the highest percentage of women, which was a big reason I wanted to join.”

Another common reason for joining the Space Force among these seven women was the desire to be a part of innovating and shaping the Department of Defense’s newest force.

“If you want to be a part of something new and you’re comfortable with change and you’re willing to be flexible, then I would 100% recommend the Space Force,” Mallette said. “Even if you’re afraid of change, but willing to try, join the Space Force. It’s something you can work up and have a say in, and even at the lower levels they ask for opinions and pass it up the chain.”

To learn more about each of these women, their journey to where they are now, and advice they have for others considering a space-related career in the military, please visit each of their photos.



Wing Commander Victoria “Vicky” Miller

Wing Commander Victoria “Vicky” Miller joined the United Kingdom Royal Air Force as an air traffic control officer in 2001 after graduating university with a degree in psychology. Throughout her career, Miller has moved every 2-3 years and held numerous positions at the installation and headquarters levels including aide-de-camp to a three-star general, senior air traffic controller in Cyprus, and staff positions at the U.K.’s Air Command headquarters and joint headquarters.

When Miller’s husband was coming up on his retirement from the military, the couple decided to look for opportunities abroad. Since the two love traveling, and space was a growth area for the U.K. military, the job as Strategic Plans Division chief at the Combined Force Space Component Command seemed like the perfect opportunity.

With a six-month-old baby in tow, the couple packed up and moved to the U.S. in 2021 for a three-year assignment at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. The family loves exploring within California, and has been to San Diego, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Red Wood National Park, San Francisco, and Sequoia National Park. They have also taken advantage of California’s proximity to some other places that are harder to get to from the U.K. including a trip to Hawaii they took last year, and a planned trip to Alaska later this year.

On the job, Miller faces numerous challenges, but always tries to make sure the members on her team are getting the most out of the experience.

“We have a really diverse team,” Miller said. “We actually have no U.S. Space Force on our team at all, but we have got U.S. Marines, Army, civilians, Brits, Aussies and Canadians, so we have a real mix of people within our branch. There’s quite a lot of different considerations that come out of that for what people need to get out of the job for their own personal development, for career development, and how we manage the taskers that come our way.”

Beyond people and task managing, Miller is also qualified to sit as the Chief, Current Operations (CCO) on the Combined Space Operations Center floor, a role she was filling during the women’s crew shift.

Although Miller isn’t certain what the future holds for her and her family after this assignment, she “would like to stay doing a space job,” and had nothing but good things to say about her time in the military.

“We’ve absolutely loved it,” Miller said. “It’s been so much fun being in the military, I cannot think of another job that’s as diverse, allows you to stay employed by one organization, that would allow you to do so many things, see so many places, and meet such different people.”

When asked if she had any advice for people, particularly women, starting out their military careers, Miller had this to say:

“Stick to your guns, don’t be scared to challenge if you have good grounds for challenge, just be prepared to back it up. Don’t let other people walk all over you, although some people will try. You’ll meet lots of difficult people, and there will be difficult situations that you find yourself thrown in, but if you believe in what you are doing, then just carry on and you’ll do just fine.”



Master Sgt. Denene Towne

Master Sgt. Denene Towne wanted to join the Air Force after graduating high school, but her plans for military service ended up being delayed when she met her future husband two weeks before graduating high school in 1984. He was active-duty Navy, and when he left to go out to sea, Towne decided to wait to see what happened with their relationship rather than going into military service herself. The two were engaged when Towne was just 17 years old, and married when she was 20.

The couple moved to Arizona where they had two children, but Towne never let go of her dream of joining the Air Force. When she was 34 and her husband was getting ready to retire from the Navy, she submitted paperwork to join the Air Force reserves and began training to be in air transportation.

In 2012, Towne began looking for opportunities to transfer to a space unit, but wasn’t having much luck in finding a position. In 2016, during her last deployment, she worked with an airman who was switching to intel and was going to be assigned to a space unit at Vandenberg. Once she had a unit in mind, and an “in” it wasn’t much longer before Towne was able to switch career fields graduating from Undergraduate Space Training in 2018.

“I’ve always had an interest in space since I was a kid,” Towne said. “My uncle worked with NASA and worked on quite a few satellites and my dad was a diehard Trekkie, so that’s what I grew up on.”

Since joining the 9th Combat Operations Squadron within the Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Space force base, Towne has spent an average of 3-6 months a year at VSFB, and the rest of her time is spent at home in Tucson, Arizona, where she works for a credit union.

Towne loves learning about space and described a bookshelf she has in her home full of space textbooks. She currently has a Bachelors in Space Studies and is pursuing a Masters in the same topic with an emphasis in space policy.

“I love space, and I’m fairly new to it,” Towne said. “I’m 56 years old, so I don’t have a lot of time left in the military. I want to get as much out of it as I can and learn as much about space as I can.”

Another one of Towne’s passions is planes. She loves air shows, describes the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II as personal heroes, and would like to get her private pilot’s license before she dies.

“I’ve put a lot of things on hold throughout my life, but I still have these goals that I will continue to strive for,” said Towne. “Until I’m dead, they’re not off the table. If you want something, go for it, don’t let anything stop you.”

One of the people that has always encouraged Towne to pursue her dreams is her daughter, who is a social worker currently working for Cigna Healthcare in Texas.

“My daughter is incredibly supportive and she’s like a mentor to me,” Towne said. “Whenever I’m feeling down, my daughter is there to tell me I can do anything and make me feel positive.”



Maj. Danielle “Dani” Stewart

Maj. Danielle “Dani” Stewart didn’t always aspire for a career in the military. Although her dad was a Security Forces Officer in the Air Force, Stewart started her education at Florida State University thinking she wanted to get into politics due to her passion for wanting to make a positive difference. Upon completion of her master’s degree, Stewart decided that the Air Force may be a better way to pursue that passion, at least in the short term, and applied for Officer Training School in 2013.

Stewart feels lucky to have been selected for OTS her first time applying, and to be designated as a Space Operations Officer, which brought her to Vandenberg Space Force Base for training. During this first assignment at VSFB, Stewart met her husband, a former soldier who is from the Central Coast, and they clicked right away.

“We’re both independent and practical people,” Stewart said. “You know within two-weeks whether or not someone is worth your time, and we both committed and have been married almost ten years.”

Together, the couple moved to Colorado for an assignment with the 4th Space Operations Squadron, and it was here that Stewart’s daughter was born.

“Having a daughter has changed my perspective a lot,” Stewart said. “She’s at the age where she’ll ask a lot of questions, and when she sees women doing something or being celebrated, she’ll ask why they’re making a big deal out of it. Being able to have those conversations with her is really exciting. It’s so different to have to explain to other people what you take for granted and I think that’s really changed my perception a lot.”

Following her assignment in Colorado, Stewart did a tour in New Mexico, and then sought out an opportunity in California to bring her daughter closer to family and provide some stability.

The family is taking advantage of the slower pace the Central Coast offers, and like to spend time at the zoo, exploring local museums, going to festivals, attending a hockey game, or playing board games together at home. They also have two big dogs, so walks on Vandenberg’s many trails are common.

Currently, Stewart is working as the assistant director of operations for the 55th Combat Training Squadron within the Combined Space Operations Center. Stewart described the job as being primarily problem solving as she works through balancing mission requirements with individual’s personal needs. But what has made the job at Vandenberg great has been her leadership.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky with my leadership here,” Stewart said. “I can’t speak highly enough of them. It’s been a really rough year for me. I’ve had a lot of personal issues come up, and I don’t think I would be where I am and have been able to deal with everything without them being so incredibly supportive.”

Stewart is a big advocate for mental health, and through the support of her leadership, was able to spend time working on herself this year. After realizing she was drinking more than she would like, Stewart was able to enroll in the military’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program.

“I went through the ADAPT program including doing an in-residence facility for about a month,” Stewart said. “That’s the sort of thing that you can only do if your leadership is the type that will support you through it and not punish you.”

When asked what advice she has for others in the military who may be struggling or who are debating their next steps, Stewart emphasized that you always have a choice.

“The best part of the military is that you get to choose it over and over again,” Stewart said. “You really have the opportunity to take advantage of so many different things and chose your own adventure. And you also have the opportunity to stop. I think that both are valid, and being able to have those choices alongside stability is really beneficial to me personally.”



Capt. Kylie Kester

Capt. Kylie Kester is from Northern California and grew up in the Bay Area. Throughout High School, Kester played volleyball competitively and was recruited to play at a couple different colleges, including the Air Force Academy, which is where she chose to go, in part because it was a guaranteed job after graduating.  

Kester’s father is a software engineer for Lockheed Martin, and her brother-in-law is an astrophysicist, so she was influenced by them to pursue a career in space. After graduating from the Academy, Kester was assigned as a Space Operations Officer at the 2nd Range Operations Squadron at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif., before getting assigned to the 55th Combat Training Squadron within the Combined Space Operations Center.

“I wanted launch, so I was really happy with my first assignment and this one too,” Kester said. “A bunch of people in my life have told me space is pretty cool, and now I can confirm, space is pretty cool.”

When she’s not working, you can often find Kester gardening, sewing, hiking with her huskie, or wine tasting. One of the things that she loves about the area is that all the space provides people the freedom and ability to pursue their hobbies. She’s met people who brew their own beer, craft wine, and grow food for the many farmer’s markets in the area.

Kester also likes to take advantage of having family nearby.

“My sister is in San Francisco, and she just had a baby, and my brother’s wife just had a baby, so I go up to Sacramento to visit them,” said Kester. “Or I go up into the mountains to see my parents.”

While Kester would love to stay at Vandenberg, she is excited for her next assignment at the Air Operations Center in Ramstein, Germany where she will be helping to build up the space component there.


Kester isn’t sure if she will stay in the military for a full retirement, but she does appreciate the work the military does to make sure people feel accepted.

“I think the military does a really good job of representing what’s going on in the current culture of the United States. The military allows people to live their life and discourages discrimination of any kind. We still have a long way to go but the foundation has been set with new processes and policies in place to stop it.”

“The military works to protect us because they see us as a very valuable tool and asset,” Kester added. “I think the Space Force does a good job of treating people with value and understanding people come from all different backgrounds.”



Capt. Sarah Rodriguez

Capt Sarah Rodriguez joined the military through the ROTC program at the University of Oklahoma where she got a degree in meteorology. Before joining the ROTC program, Rodriguez had always had an interest in science, but didn’t know what she wanted to do after graduating.

“One of the things that stood out to me in ROTC was the sense of comradery and how people supported each other, and I had always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Rodriguez said. “I like that in a lot of the places I’ve been, that sense of comradery has continued, because I like feeling like I’m a part of a team.”

While in ROTC, Rodriguez met her future husband, and the two of them were assigned to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina together. From there, they were assigned to bases in Korea, and are now both assigned to Vandenberg Space Force Base, which is the first space weather assignment that Rodriguez has had.

“Vandenberg was our top choice assignment coming back from Korea because it was one of the few places two weather officers could go, and it enables us to go do a lot of our hobbies in terms of hiking and camping because there’s just so much of that around here,” Rodriguez said. “My husband is also a California native, so it’s nice for us to be close to his family.”

When not working, you can usually find Rodriguez and her husband hiking, camping or backpacking. The two have explored Los Padres, Big Sur, and the Santa Monica mountains. They have also done multi-day backpacking trips in the Sequoia National Forrest and Death Valley National Park. One day, Rodriguez hopes to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile-long trail that spans from the base up California to the top of Washington.

In her current assignment, Rodriguez leads a team of eight people who support the Combined Space Operations Center through 24/7 terrestrial and space weather monitoring. Part of this monitoring is identifying ways the suns behavior may impact operations.

“A lot of people don’t realize it, but the sun really does affect a lot of things in terms of communications and various assets that we use in the military,” Rodriguez said. “So we have to identify what the sun is doing and if that’s having any impacts on the mission.”

Rodriguez isn’t sure what’s next for her because it can be difficult to find a location that has two different weather offices for her and her husband to be assigned, but for now, Rodriguez is enjoying the military, particularly the people she’s met and the travel opportunities.

“I probably never would have gone to Korea, I probably never would have been stationed in South Carolina, probably wouldn’t have met a lot of the people that I’ve met,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just been a really good way of broadening my horizons and getting that larger scope of experiences.”

When asked what advice she has for people starting out in their military careers, Rodriguez said to pay attention to the people who make an impression, “because you never know when you’re going to need to reach back to someone for advice.” She also recommended that people “emulate styles of leadership that you personally like because it is easier to think about someone that you knew personally and interacted with rather than reading a book or listening to a podcast and trying to figure out what that advice looks like in real life.”



2nd Lt. Lauren Turner

2nd Lt. Lauren Turner joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2017 because it seemed like a good way to study what she was interested and have a guaranteed job upon graduating. While in the program, the Space Force was created, and her graduating class of 2021 was the first that had the option to apply to the Space Force rather than the Air Force.

Turner’s dad worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), so Turner always had some interest in space, but didn’t think she would end up in a space career. But when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to take advantage, and her now husband who was also in the ROTC program did the same.

“When the Space Force was rolled out, it made a lot of sense to me and I thought that might be something I was interested in doing because it was a focused mission that you knew what you were getting into more,” Turner said. “I was also excited about the prospect of a new branch; the opportunity to innovate within a branch more so that the other services. The Space Force has some malleability that the other branches might not have.”

Turner and her husband got married in 2020, a year before graduating from college, and after Turner graduated from Intelligence School at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, in 2022 she joined her husband, a Space Operations Officer, at Vandenberg Space Force Base where she is working in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division of the Combined Space Operations Center.

Turner’s favorite part of living in California has been the weather, and she has been considering ways to get outside more to enjoy the sunlight. Turner often goes for walks with her two dogs and has considered starting a garden. She also recently tried surfing and would like to go more often.

One of the couple’s favorite trips while here has been to Lake Tahoe for Snowboarding, and Turner and her husband would like to go back to the Lake in the Summertime. They have also been to Yosemite and look forward to exploring more of California in the future.

When asked if the Space Force has lived up to her expectation, Turner expressed that the branch provides opportunities to people early in their careers.

“There definitely is a lot of opportunity to make innovations in your position and push changes up,” Turner said. “Most likely, if you’re an officer, or even enlisted, and are joining the space force, you’re going to get assigned a billet above your pay grade. In that sense, there’s huge opportunity to excel and stretch out your leadership aspirations.”

Turner expects to stay in the Space Force for at least one more assignment but doesn’t believe she will have a full career in the military. However, she would recommend it to others, particularly to those who are academically minded, and would advise those wishing to join to be willing to do some extra learning.

“If you want to join the Space Force, be proactive in training,” Turner said. “Be prepared to advocate for your own training and go the extra mile yourself to try to get spun up on all this stuff. Education is important in the Space Force, so if you’re more academically minded, or planning to pursue higher education or partnerships with the private sector, I think Space Force is a good option because we really go out of our way to partner with private sector and civilians.”



2nd Lt. Melonie Mallette

2nd Lt. Melonie Mallette comes from a military family with her mom, dad and brother all serving in the Air Force. Mallette started out on the Air Force path as well, graduating from Virginia Tech University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2021 as an Intelligence Officer with a degree in Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise. But when she was graduating, Mallette was offered a choice between commissioning into the Air or Space Force.

“In the end, I ended up picking the Space Force because it was something new to help develop and just a new culture and environment,” Mallette said. “Even still, I feel like we’re growing in the Space Force. We don’t have that set culture yet. I think we’re trying to build it, but we’re not quite there yet. Especially with different backgrounds, which is super cool because we’re getting people from the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, civilians.”

Since there is no Space Force intelligence school, Mallette received her initial military training at the Air Force school and has had to seek out opportunities to learn more about the Space Force after arriving to Vandenberg Space Force Base for her first assignment. 

“I’ve learned a lot sitting on the floor having to talk with people who call in and learn what they do,” Mallette said. “Usually, I don’t know the answers to questions people are calling in for and have to go find out.”

Having to constantly seek out information is no problem for Mallette who chose intel in part because of her passion for learning.

“Continuously learning something has helped me be able to contribute to society,” Mallette said. “I think a hunger for learning has to come with the intel career field just because we are always having to perform some sort of analysis or research and finding out information.”

In addition to learning new things, Mallette enjoys trying all the different foods that the local area has to offer and loves to be outdoors. When not at work, Mallette can often be found hiking with her 80-pound German Sheppard. Mallette and her fiancé have plans to visit as many national parks together as possible, a goal they started working towards when Mallette was going through intel training in Texas.

Although uncertain about a career in the military, Mallette is interested in doing at least one more assignment, preferably closer to her family and fiancé who live on the East Coast. Mallette’s fiancé is an Army doctor, and she expressed that her decision to stay on active duty will depend on whether or not the two of them can be assigned together.

When asked if she would recommend the Space Force to other women, Mallette expressed that she has found the service to be very welcoming.

“In the intel career field and I think in the Space Force in general I’ve probably interacted with more women on the enlisted and officer side than you would in other branches,” Mallette said. “There’s always going to be a higher percentage of males in the military, but 100% I would tell women go for it, be a part of the Space Force. We all have something that we can bring to the floor. There’s been a lot of positive interactions, and as the senior intel analyst on the floor, I’ve always been listened to and heard.”



Tech. Sgt. Reyna Rivera

Tech. Sgt. Reyna Rivera is originally from Puerto Rico and moved to Florida at the age of 15. Despite some limitations with her English skills, Rivera was ambitious and insisted on taking honors and Advanced Placement classes throughout high school before attending the University of South Florida.

Although Rivera had no ties to the military, she decided to enlist in the Army in 2017 after getting her bachelor’s degree because it seemed like a good opportunity for financial stability. Rivera attended basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, then went to Advanced Individual Training in Arizona to be trained as an Intelligence Analyst before being assigned to Fort Gordon, Georgia. Just before leaving Georgia for an assignment in Washington, Rivera decided to take a chance and apply for the Space Force.

“I liked the idea that it was different from the Army,” Rivera said. “The Space Force sounded cooler and more applicable to real life and where we’re headed with developments in technology.”

Nine months after applying, Rivera found out that she had been accepted into the Space Force, and about ten months after, in July 2022, she moved from Washington to California to be part of the Combined Space Operations Center Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Division.

When asked if the Space Force has lived up to her expectations, Rivera mentioned that there are some “growing pains of a new force,” but that overall, it has been a positive experience.

“People are more willing to listen when you do have an issue or bring something up,” Rivera said. “They’re more sympathetic to acknowledging that people do have different situations they’re dealing with, and they’re not dismissive.”

When she’s not at work, you can usually find Rivera at the gym, on a trail hiking, or exploring nearby cities. She is often spending the weekends in Los Angeles or San Diego and looks forward to visiting more of California’s national parks, particularly Joshua Tree.

In the future, Rivera would love an assignment in Colorado, and has also considered applying to become an officer so that she can have more of a strategic impact.

“I like to see things from a higher level and be more embedded in that process,” Rivera said. “I want to be more involved in the decisions that will impact the tactical level. Being enlisted has been great, but I’d rather go up the ranks on the officer side.”

Although a college degree is only required for officers joining the military, Rivera believes that having her degree is one of the things that has helped her be successful.

“I would encourage anybody to get their degree before they come in, whether they want to go enlisted or they want to go officer,” Rivera said. “Getting a degree just opens many doors and also creates a lot of good habits when it comes to school, discipline, and being open minded.”

Rivera would also advice others in the military to be open to new opportunities and purposefully create a work-life balance.

“Whenever you get to a new duty location, welcome it with open arms and be open to all the things that it will offer,” Rivera said. “It’s very important to get involved inside the base, but also outside the base to have a little bit of separation between your personal and your professional life. There’s always things to do, you just have to look for them and if you don’t have company, still go for it.”