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For Women’s History Month, a panel is hosted by the Federal Women’s Program at NUWC Division Newport

On March 26, five female employees of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport’s Federal Women’s Program held a panel discussion centered on their perspectives and experiences as female employees of the U.S. Navy in honor of Women’s History Month.
The event began with a video showing some of Division Newport’s senior female executives sharing personal and professional inspirations that have shaped their lives. The event was televised to employees across the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).
This year’s subject, “Women Who Have Made Great Achievements,” was mirrored in the video, which honoured the innumerable efforts made by women in paving the way for a better future.

The discussion’s panelists included Jackeline “Jackie” Diapis, an engineer in the USW Weapons, Vehicles, and Defensive Systems Department; Sally Sutherland-Pietrzak of NUWC Headquarters, director of the Naval Engineering Education Consortium; Poonam Aggarwal, supervisory engineer, Undersea Warfare (USW) Platforms and Payload Integration Department; and Alison Wicks, head of the Acquisition Policy and Oversight Division, Contracts Department. The Federal Women’s Program (FWP) lead and supervising engineer, Susan Balcirak, moderated the event and guided the panelists through a series of questions. Balcirak asked Aggarwal and Wicks, “Why did you choose your career working for the Navy as a federal employee?” as his first query.

Aggarwal, who has worked at Division Newport for about 15 years, stated that her love and admiration for America was the driving force behind her decision to join the Navy.

“I was 14 years old when I came to the U.S. with my family — we didn’t have money, didn’t speak English, didn’t know anyone or anything, but my parents came here to have a better life,” Aggarwal said. “When we arrived, everyone was very nice and helpful. Also, in India, there is no free education, so having free education in the U.S. up until high school took a lot of burden off my parents’ shoulders. I really wanted to give something back to this country, and one way of doing it was coming to the Navy. I wanted to serve our country by any means.”

Wicks claimed that her discontent with her job at a retail pharmacy prompted her to apply for a job at NUWC, which led to an almost 17-year career at Division Newport.

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