Welcome and thank you for stopping by! This is the second installment of our series to honor and share the stories of empowered women, fulfilling roles as leaders in their country. The mission of this project is to inspire, educate, and connect women who are currently serving or considering serving in typically male dominated professions such as military, police, or fire service. Over the next ten weeks we will share the stories of ten amazing women who have served, or are currently serving our Nation, providing unique perspectives into the inspiring realities of these women's lives.
If you would like to contribute to our project and share your story through Valkyrie Performance, please email me at email@example.com
First Lieutenant Hailey Morgan
Aviation Officer in the United States Army
1. What do you appreciate the most about being a woman in a male dominated field?
What I appreciate most about being a woman in a male dominated field is the level of friendly competition men are always initiating. I love participating in the fun and seeing how far I can push myself when these little competitions arise. I am also really thankful for any opportunity to positively change the perspective of what a woman is and what she is capable of to anyone that has a certain negative opinion on women.
2. As a woman in a male dominated field, what challenges do you regularly face and how do you overcome those challenges?
The biggest challenge I have is comparing myself/being compared to the men around me even though I am not always physically capable to accomplish the things they are. Whenever I face a challenge like this, I just give it my all. I’ve never heard anyone say anything negative about someone who was really trying their hardest. It’s also extremely inspiring to do whatever the task is a second time and to show marked improvement.
3. What practices do you have, to re-center yourself when you’ve had a tough conversation or someone has given you an ungrounded assessment or unsolicited advice?
The biggest practice I have during those challenging times is remembering MY truth. I know who I am as a woman of God and I know that because of this I am always going to do the right thing and give my best effort every single time. With that, I will always take an ungrounded assessment/unsolicited advice with a grain of salt and try to see from the other’s perspective and maybe even improve upon what I’ve been told.
4. What are your top 3-5 priorities in life? How do you make time for the areas you value most?
My top priorities in life are going to be my relationship with the Lord, my husband, my family, my health/fitness and then my precious pups! I make time for the areas I value most by continuously assessing where I am and how I’m performing in each area. To make time for these things, I wake up extra early (0400) so I can spend that quiet time in the morning before facing anything/anyone else in the day which really helps me to get my heart right and look over what I need to accomplish for the day. Giving those first hours to myself is a non-negotiable.. plus, how many distractions are there at 4am?!
5. While serving, what has been your biggest personal victory? What about the best organizational/team victory and why?
My biggest personal victory while serving has been graduating from flight school and having all of my family there to support me. The best organizational/team victory I have been a part of was a Brigade level air assault in which over 30 helicopters were involved, 10 from my company, and we accomplished the mission flawlessly.
6. Do you feel like you have found your “life’s purpose/calling” yet, or do you still feel like you are continuing to discover and unravel what unique gift/niche you bring to the world?
I feel like I know what my “life’s purpose/calling” is, but I am still in the process of continuing to discover and unravel what that looks like in the way I live life! I know I am meant to be a mother--something that my husband and I have put off due to us both being in the military. I also know without a doubt that someday I want the opportunity to help people along on their fitness journey.
7. How do you combat negative self-talk, and pick yourself back up from failure?
Negative self-talk is certainly the biggest struggle I have faced. As with any weakness, it has taken diligent and hard work to get better! I have read a myriad of books on the topic and applied some of the principles I’ve learned through the knowledge published in those books. The greatest thing that I have learned is that my greatest fear is failure, however I also learned to embrace that for everything it is when it happens. There is so much to be learned from failure and the negative thoughts we have when viewed in the right frame of reference. I began to take those events and spin them for good. For example if I failed hitting a certain weight on a lift and someone else beat me, I would automatically go into how lazy I am for not getting to the gym more often, etc. When I stopped being so self-focused and shifted my attention to others, things began to change. To use the same example from above, I would admire and congratulate all the women around me regardless if they lifted more than me or not and would in turn congratulate myself! Why not treat yourself the same, if not better, than how you treat others?! You are worthy of that! Remembering a few key phrases always helps as well to combat those negative thoughts. Mine are: “I am worthy.” “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “I can do ALL things.”
8. If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be? If others described you in 3 words what would they be? Are they congruent with the way you think you are portraying yourself in the world?
If I could describe myself in 3 words, they would be passionate, loyal, and hard-working. I asked the 5 closest people to me what words they would use to describe me and the words they agreed on were ambitious, intelligent and tenacious. I feel extremely flattered to know that’s what they think of me! I do feel like those are consistent with who I am and how I am hoping to be represented.
9. What changes would you like to see in the next 5 years for women in male dominated environments?
I would like to see it be one step closer for it to be 100% normal for women to be in ANY field. There was a period in the 1970s when women were integrating into Army Aviation and COL Sally D. Murphy was the first graduate of the United States Army flight school and the first helicopter pilot in the Army. She paved the way for me to successfully attend flight school and become a rated Army Aviator without any hindrances due to my sex. As women integrate into combat arms today, I see the same outcome years down the road. If a woman can meet the established standards to do her job, she should not be discouraged because she is a woman. All people should be given the same chance to fulfill their goals regardless of their sex, race, religion, etc.
10. What advice would give to your 19 year old self? Or to a young woman starting her journey of serving our Country?
First, I would like to remind you that your mind is your only limitation. If you can conquer the negativity, nothing will hold you back from accomplishing your dreams. Secondly, strive for excellence in all things. Striving for excellence is not being perfect or even always doing things flawlessly, but it’s doing the best you can and being true to who you are. Along your journey of service, you will be given the chance to lead men and women from all backgrounds and it is imperative that you give them your greatest effort. Also, taking time for yourself to decompress is vital to your success. Make sure you give yourself a great effort as well. There are two phrases you will likely hear if you haven’t already.. they are: “Adapt and Overcome” and “Embrace the Suck.” At face value they seem like two simple phrases, but there is so much wisdom to both of them. When things aren’t going the way they should and the plan you spent hours on is falling apart, you must continue to be resilient and focused to accomplish the mission. Adaptability and willingness to push through that discomfort is essential. Take those moments with open arms; they are a chance for you to truly shine like the wonderful person you are! Lastly, have fun. There will be good days and bad days, there will be wonderful places to live and there will be not so wonderful places to live, and there will be successes and failures; if you chose to view everything with the “glass half full” mentality, you will have so much more joy in life! Best of luck! Now go get ‘em!
Again, if you have questions or would like to share your story with Valkyrie, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org