Today is an auspicious day for me – 2.22.22 because today my book officially releases!! One thing I always want to know is why an author writes a book so today I’ll share an excerpt with you:

Why I tell my story

I know what it’s like to walk into a room where I seemingly don’t fit in—where my presence is immediately noticed, my credentials are questioned, and I’m assumed to be less qualified based on my gender. In addition to being among the first women to graduate from the United States Naval Academy, I was one of the few women, if not the only woman, at each step of my journey as a career naval officer, aviator, and ultimately Navy captain. I know how it feels to be asked time and again to justify my presence and to defend why I had “taken a spot from a more qualified male” (never based on fact, only assumption).

Perhaps that is why I noticed Melanie immediately as she walked into our STEM Summer Institute—a two-week camp dedicated to educating the next generation of young women in STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Melanie sat down a bit removed from the other girls as if she might have felt that she didn’t fit in. She was from a different high school than all the others, so she didn’t have someone she recognized to sit with. I saw that her head was down and knew I needed to speak with her right away to help her feel included.

Introducing myself, I told Melanie a little about flying, and I saw her face light up. As we connected, I immediately detected an intelligence and spark that I’ve always loved seeing in young women. “Wow, this girl has a lot going on inside her,” I thought.

There are many young women like Melanie.

So many thoughts run through my head when I think of Melanie, the young women I continue to work with daily, and even my daughter, Kim Anh. In each of them I see what I saw in myself many years ago: a smart young woman wanting to pursue a path that had not been well traveled before. These young women will face their own challenges as they head out into the world. Some will want to go into STEM careers, where women remain underrepresented (especially in engineering, computer science, and physics) and will need tools to navigate a male-dominated field, much like my own. They will want to push the boundaries of our culture and, each in their own way, will become pioneers.

That is one of the reasons I tell my story. There are plenty more.

Find out more in my new book Flight Lessons: Navigating Through Life’s Turbulence and Learning to Fly High! Now available through your local bookstore.