MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia --
Marine Corps Systems Command is rounding out Women’s History Month by highlighting two women leaving their marks on the command and making a difference in the lives of those around them. This year’s Women’s History Month theme, “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives,” reminds us that every woman has a story with challenges, triumphs and achievements inextricably linked to the success of our nation.
“Going the extra mile”
Beverly Hobbs lives by a very simple rule: Help yourself.
Growing up the youngest of six kids in the inner city, Hobbs knew that paying for college would be a challenge for her family. Neither of her parents had attended college, and her father did not have a high-school diploma.
“But my parents never let that stop them, and they instilled in me that education would be my way out,” Hobbs said. “I understood that I would have to work summer jobs. I knew I had to get good grades so I could get scholarships—so I could help myself. I never feel anything is impossible.”
After graduating high school, Hobbs went on to attend college and has since received two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in organizational management.
She pointed out that by no means does helping oneself mean to go it alone.
“One of the things I feel fortunate about is that I’ve had great mentors, and I’ve been open to understanding what my weaknesses are and aggressively seeking ways to help myself,” Hobbs said.
One piece of advice from a supervisor that she remembers and has imparted to others throughout her career is to always display the highest level of professionalism. Hobbs has served a professor at the Defense Acquisition University, teaching others about the contracting profession, and she now teaches night classes at Webster University as an adjunct faculty member. As the competency manager for Contracts at Marine Corps Systems Command, Hobbs is dedicated to helping others in her field accomplish their professional goals.
“I’ve been under some bad management in my life, but I’ve also had some great managers,” she said. “When God puts me in a position [managing others], I feel personally responsible for making sure I’m not that bad manager.”
Her sense of responsibility and dedication extend to her day-to-day work.
“One of the things I’ve learned is that you have to be willing to give 100 percent and then some,” Hobbs said. “So, I embrace every job opportunity I have by putting everything I have into it. I never want my failure to be because I didn’t do everything I could. That’s what I try to instill in everyone I have an opportunity to influence or anyone who is watching me. Do everything you possibly can.”
Cynthia Washington, a contract specialist in MCSC’s Information Systems and Infrastructure, said Hobbs has been an inspiration to her since the two worked together during Hobbs’ first few years in the command.
“She is really into her job, and when she starts something, she wants it to be the best,” Washington said. “When she’s tasked with something, she will work above and beyond to get that task done. She is goal oriented. Through her work ethic, she has inspired me to be a better person.”
Hobbs said she gains as much as she receives from professional relationships such as with Washington.
“No man is an island,” Hobbs said. “You will not be successful on your own. You need other people to be successful. It’s important to recognize the value of relationships, and to keep those relationships going. Even if you don’t see them or talk to them every day, they’re part of your circle. And I believe there’s value in those relationships.”
When Cammie Genda walked into her first engineering class at the University of Virginia in 2009, she was the only woman in the class. While this may be daunting for some, it was no problem for Genda, who was the fifth oldest child in a family with nine boys.
During her senior year in high school, Genda’s parents adopted three children from Ethiopia—two girls and one boy, bringing the family total to 14.
“Growing up in a big family, you learn that life is made of hard work and the world doesn’t revolve around you,” Genda said.
Education was a core value in Genda’s home, and girls had no limits. Her father, an engineer and retired Air Force reservist, taught Genda how to build boxcars alongside her brothers and encouraged her to pursue engineering because he recognized her talent early on. Her mother—who worked as a rehabilitation counselor for the blind and deaf before her children were born—homeschooled Genda and her brothers, further instilling the importance of education.
Genda, now 23 and an engineer working for the Marine Corps, still believes women have no limits. In fact, she is one of four female engineers in her office, which she said makes her even more proud.
“I’m so thankful to be an engineer,” she said. “I know it’s a lot different and there are far more opportunities for women in engineering now than [in the past]. I don’t feel there are any walls. I’m so lucky to have benefited from women who worked in this field before me.”
In her job at Program Executive Officer Land Systems, Genda helps make and evaluate engineering changes to Marine Corps vehicles, such as modeling new seats that help minimize injuries to Marines resulting from underbody explosions.
“I love knowing that in the long run, my work helps save lives,” she said. “When I talk to the Marines I work with or meet, I know that what I’m doing is helping to prevent the types of tragedies some of them have had to endure.”
Outside of work, Genda likes to push her own limits.
“You don’t know what your strengths are until you explore and see what you can do,” she said.
Genda’s strengths took her by surprise when she competed in her first Ironman Triathlon in college. Today, she is ranked number one globally in her age group and will compete in the World Championship in Hawaii in October.
“It’s about wanting to find your strengths and then tapping into them,” she said. “To not tap into your strengths is a waste of your God-given gifts. If you have a talent, use it. Whatever you do, put your best foot forward.”