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Naval Academy Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Posted on: May 06, 2014 08:00 EDT by LT Teng Ooi

The Naval Academy held an Asian Pacific American Heritage banquet at the Naval Academy Club with special guest Rear Adm. Raquel C. Bono, director of the National Capital Region Medical Directorate of the Defense Health Agency.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of the culture, traditions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. and helps raise awareness of their contributions to our nation.

According to the Library of Congress, the observance is in May “to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.”

In her speech, Bono addressed the importance of understanding the worth and strength of diversity and inclusion in the Navy. Bono originally wanted to go into nursing but her father inspired her to become a doctor and showed her there were no boundaries on what she can do.

Bono became a medical doctor through the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship program. She earned her medical degree at Texas Tech University and began her military career with a general surgery residency at naval hospital in Portsmouth, Va. She was the first woman to graduate from the program.

“What I enjoyed about being in the Navy was that I always felt confident that my ability to advance was going to be based on my capabilities and my performance. I felt that I had an equitable opportunity to succeed,” she said.

Citing her own experiences, Bono strongly encourages students to apply for the Health Professions Student Program as a way of entering the medical profession.

“My experiences in the Navy have made me a better doctor, a better leader, and a better person, while allowing me financial independence during medical school,” she said. “I got paid to go to medical school, while serving my country and learning how to be a better leader.”

Asian Pacific Americans have helped defend the United States and for those currently serving in the U.S. military, and they are continuing this tradition by carrying the torch of freedom and keeping our nation safe.

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