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Rear Admiral To Share Lessons About Career – Brevard, NC


Last updated 1/6/2020 at 2:25pm

Rear Admiral Gretchen Herbert, USN retired, will share a program about her 30-year career in the Navy and the opportunities, challenges and lessons she learned along the way.

This session will be at the American Association of University Women (AAUW) monthly meeting at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

The meeting will be held at St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church, 1080 Asheville Highway, and the public is invited to attend and bring a light lunch, if desired.

Herbert’s Navy journey actually began when she was in high school, and her father encouraged her to apply for an ROTC scholarship.

After graduating in 1984 from the ROTC program at the University of Rochester in New York, she formally began her 30-year naval career.

While women were precluded from combat roles in that era, she was able to participate in an operational program. Her first position was in the sound surveillance system listening to devices on the ocean floor and tracking Soviet submarines.

This led to many other positions across her career.

“My favorite tour was my first aircraft carrier,” Herbert said. “I was the combat system officer on the George Washington, and we deployed into the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf. A Navy aircraft carrier operates like an entire city of 5,000 people. And you got to know everybody very well and you all have a common purpose. The main mission on both deployments was to support ground forces in Iraq or in Afghanistan. It was awe-inspiring to watch the aircraft launch and recover after successful missions.”

She served a number of roles across the decades, including her service on the USS George Washington (2002-2004) and the USS Ronald Reagan (2006-2008).

She was also the Commanding Officer of the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Washington, DC, where she worked for another AAUW member, Capt. Maureen Copelof.

One role she played from the mid-1990s to 2015 was promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) to middle and high school students across the country, advocating young women to pursue a science major in college.

“We have so many women now in the military that are engineers, nuclear engineers on submarines, combat pilots and surface warfare officers that operate and maintain propulsion systems for our ships and submarines,” Herbert said. “STEM is an increasingly important component of service in not only the military, but in many civilian occupations as well.”

Through her experience as a female officer she has gained a deep perspective on the ever-expanding role of women in the armed services, embracing new opportunities and chall-enges as they arise, and what it means to be a leader in a large, diverse organization.

Her AAUW presentation on the opportunities, challenges and lessons learned along her 30-year naval journey will be an engaging one.

St. Timothy’s United Methodist Church is at the corner of Asheville Highway and Hospital Drive, across the highway from Strauss Park.

Those attending should park in front or at the side of the church and come in through the double front doors under the covered walkway facing Asheville Highway.

AAUW’s mission is to promote equity for all women and girls through advocacy, philanthropy, education and research. The primary fundraising activity of the branch is the Annual Book Sale held in June at Brevard College’s Boshamer Gym.

For anyone wanting to make a large book donation at any time of year, contact Kristen Alpert on her cell phone (203) 913-6935 to have AAUW members come by and pick up your books or arrange a time when you can come by and drop off your books at AAUW’s Book Nook facility downtown.

Members will come out and unload your books without you needing to carry them anywhere. The yellow book collection boxes go out to area businesses in February.

Proceeds from the book sale are used to fund scholarships for Transylvania County girls and young women to attend Brevard College, Blue Ridge Community College, the TIME high school STEM mentoring program, Green River Preserve Camp as well as Clemson University’s WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) program.

The branch takes great pride in the fact that their book sale is a community-driven operation, with books coming from the community and scholar-ships going back to the community.

More information about the branch and its many activities is available at For membership information, contact Jeanie Bernard (884-9179) or Fran Rasmussen (571-213-3635). Visitors who join AAUW at their first meeting by check or cash receive a Shape the Future discount for their first year’s membership. The American Association of University Women is open to all graduates who hold a two-year associate degree (or equivalent) or higher degree from an accredited college or university.


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