An F-18 Navy pilot, an architect, a dentist and a restaurant owner were among seven professional women who spoke at Western Nevada Collegeâ€™s â€œInspired Womenâ€™s Luncheonâ€ this week. In a packed room of high school girls at the Fallon campus, the women spoke about how to determine and succeed in their future careers.
In recognition of National Manufacturing Month, the WNC Fallon campus presented the event to inspire female students to follow the career of their dreams. The womenâ€™s stories of career struggles and success inspired and motivated the students.
â€œEach one is unique and has an interesting story to tell,â€ said Sherry Black, director of the Fallon campus. â€œThese are women who love what they do and are willing to share their journeys that have led to the paths they’ve reached today. A majority of young people don’t know what direction their lives will take- nor did we when we were younger. This luncheon provided the attendees with valuable information that will stay with them forever.â€
Speaker Lacey Szekely recalled that during her grueling early morning training runs that spanned seven miles, she briefly thought about abandoning her goal of becoming an Army helicopter pilot. But she realized that ambition can overcome any short-term inconvenience.
â€œI remembered a saying my sister told me: â€˜Pain is temporary, honor is forever.â€™ I said it almost every run and never fell out of formation, no matter how tired I was,â€ Szekely said.
â€œAcademically, if I had a bad day or bad test, I would tell myself, â€˜Tomorrow will be here before you know it and you will do better and be better,â€™ then Iâ€™d study more.â€
Carolyn Work has become one of a select few women to pilot an F-18 aircraft in the Navy. She said that the key for students is to find a passion and follow through with it.
â€œI was born and raised into a family that was very supportive, and they taught me that it is very important to understand that the world is not here to give you handouts and you have to work hard for what you want,â€ Work said. â€œYou will come across people who donâ€™t believe you are going to do it, but itâ€™s up to you to work as hard as you can to get what you want.â€
With Workâ€™s father preceding her as a Navy aviator, she didnâ€™t need to look far for a role model and inspiration.
â€œI was born and raised in the Navy on the jet side of everything,â€ she said. â€œThe air shows that I went to when I was younger probably had a lot to do with my getting into it, too.â€
After starting flight school in 2008 and earning her wings in 2011, Work is now stationed in Fallon, serving as an instructor in the Air Wing training program. As such, she plays the role of an opposing pilot for trainees who are learning to operate combat aircraft. She said she was humbled to have the opportunity to be part of Wednesdayâ€™s luncheon.
â€œAll of the women sitting with me on this panel have done some very amazing things in their career fields,â€ Work said. â€œWhen you live in small town, the world is a big place, but anything is possible if you believe in yourself and put forth the work.â€
Female pilots in the Army arenâ€™t common, either, but that didnâ€™t stop Szekely from following her passion and reaching her goal.
â€œIf you never try, you never succeed,â€ Szekely said. â€œNothing is handed to you. Accomplishing your dreams does not happen overnight. You may fall a couple of times, but you learn from each fall, dust yourself off and keep going. You can do this because you have a goal, a plan and a path to follow. Quitting should never cross your mind. You know you can do it; now show the world.
â€œFor every hour my roommate studied, I had to buckle down and study three,â€ Szekely said. â€œNothing was going to stop me from graduating flight school.
Today, Szekely operates her own aerial imaging business.
Lisa Moritz-Smith also succeeded in a nontraditional womanâ€™s career field by realizing her dream to work as an architect.
â€œBecoming an architect is a long, difficult, yet incredibly gratifying path,â€ Moritz-Smith said. â€œThe rewards of your hard work and achieving your goals are absolutely worth it. I would tell a young female student that if she follows whatever she is passionate about, she will quickly forget any barriers.â€
The event sparked an overwhelming interest from students in the Fallon area, as the event reached its capacity well beforehand.
â€œThe opportunity to speak to someone about what they do is key, and since we can’t bring the students to every separate industry, the next best thing is to bring the career people to the students,â€ Black said.