WRNNMC celebrates Women’s History Month

Megan Garcia, Walter Reed Bethesda Public Affairs

Army Lt. Col. Rhonda C. Pugh, the Defense Movement Coordinator of the District of Columbia National Guard, poses for a photo following her speech during WRNMMC’s annual Women’s History Month cultural awareness observance March 17, in Bethesda, Maryland. Pugh, who served in the Army for 25 years, lives by the motto “There are no walls or ceilings that can block my vision,” and encourages not only women, but all people to follow their dreams and to stand out. (Photo by Megan Garcia, WRNMMC PAO)

Why fit in when you were born to standout was the question Army Lt. Col. Rhonda C. Pugh posed to the audience during the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s annual Women’s History Month cultural awareness observance March 17.

Pugh, who opened her speech with the quote originally coined by Dr. Seuss, put her own spin on the phrase.

“I say why be normal, when you can be exceptional,” she added.

“Often times we have a lot of hidden talents within us, or we have dreams, and sometimes we are a little afraid, so basically to overcome those fears, push through that and just stand out,” said Pugh, who has served in the Army for 25 years and currently serves as the defense movement coordinator of the District of Columbia National Guard.

Pugh has had to push through her own set of fears and obstacles and said how people choose to handle tough times in their lives will also determine how they stand out.

“I would not have chosen to be a young widow nor a single mother, delayed promotion, etcetera, but it is what we do along the path that makes us different,” Pugh said. “Every day we have a choice to stand out. Every day we have a choice to focus on being amazing. We have the choice to be exceptional.”

Pugh said although these tough times may seem like losses, they could also be good fortunes in disguise.

“You must learn to understand the art of how to win at losing,” she said. “There will be times when your biggest setback will lead to your greatest, greatest gain.”

Pugh lives by the motto “There are no walls or ceilings that can block my vision,” and encourages not only women, but all people to follow their dreams.

“First you have to dream, and whatever those dreams are, you have to believe they were put in you for a reason, and then with your inner strength and focusing on the Lord, there’s nothing you can’t do,” Pugh said.

The program also featured a local Irish dance school to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day.

A dancer from a local Irish dance school in Gaithersburg, Maryland, performs during WRNMMC’s annual Women’s Health Month cultural awareness observance March 17, in Bethesda, Maryland, to also commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. (Photo by Megan Garcia, WRNMMC PAO)

This is the fourth year the school performed at the hospital and the first time they collaborated with the women’s history observance.

Although an unintentional collaboration, Erin Martorano said she was glad to be a part of something that celebrates the success and contributions of women. Martorano, who founded the school 10 years ago, takes pride in being a female, business owner.

“It’s very empowering,” Martorano said. “I didn’t know I could do it until I did it.”

Martorano said she hopes more women take that leap of faith and hopes to see more women-owned businesses in the future.

“Don’t be scared,” Martorano said. “You could worry about what could go wrong. I say just do it, and get it done.”

Sgt. Aarynne Ghant, who was spending her day off enjoying family time with her three kids, attended the observance to show her support for her Sailors who helped organized it. More importantly, she wanted her children to learn something as well.

“I just want my kids to be able to see that women can do a lot of different things and can be very successful,” said Ghant, who works in the nephrology department as a licensed practical nurse.

She added she was mostly interested in hearing about some of the achievements of various women throughout military history.

“If you don’t know where you have come from, how can you know where you are going,” she said.