BY LIANE NAKAHARA – PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – A Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard apprentice will be recognized for her outstanding work performance by the Hawaii Association for Career and Technical Education (HACTE) at an award luncheon May 14 at the Koolau Ballrooms.
If two words could sum up Metals Inspector Apprentice Alma Montero, it would be selfless professional. The Kapolei resident was selected to receive the HACTE award for her hard work and dedication to the job as well as her willingness to serve the community and mentor others.
“Although she is still an apprentice, Alma demonstrates exemplary leadership by taking on various projects on her own,” said Metals Inspector Supervisor George Meyer, who wrote the award nomination for Montero. “In addition to her outstanding performance on the job, she always makes time to extend her assistance to others.”
Montero entered the apprentice program in 2007. Since then, she has earned qualifications in several Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) methods, some of which were achieved in her first year as an apprentice. These early qualifications allowed her to perform the same level of work as mechanics.
“I was really surprised to hear that I won an award but very grateful that I was nominated,” said Montero. “I guess I never thought of myself as outstanding. I am just doing my job the best that I can.”
The Aiea High School graduate also qualified to be a member of the Shipyard’s Radiography Program. The qualifications for this particular program are not normally met until after completion of apprenticeship because of the specialized and extensive training required.
“Not only has she worked to improve how our radiography team prioritizes work flow and increase efficiencies, she has also completed all requirements needed to be a radiographer, all the while working toward completing her apprenticeship,” said Meyer.
Additionally, Montero has earned radiography qualifications and licenses through the American Society for Non-Destructive Testing and the Industrial Radiography and Radiation Safety Personnel Program.
In her spare time, Montero volunteers to represent the Shipyard’s Women in Trades group at career fairs and speak to students during outreach events at several local schools. She also assists at the Special Olympics Hawaii summer games and mentors fellow apprentices.
It was her dedication to community service as well as to the Shipyard that motivated Meyer, Metals Inspector General Foreman for the award.
“There were so many people who helped me along the way and so I feel that volunteering is a great way to give back,” Montero said. “I think of my volunteering as sort of paying it forward.”
Before coming to the Shipyard, she graduated from Kapiolani Community College’s culinary arts program and cooked at various restaurants across the country. She said that cooking is similar to being a metals inspector because they both deal with the quality of craftsmanship, which is what drew her to apply for the apprentice program and choose this trade.
“I was working two jobs as a cook … 16-plus hours a day, and I wanted a change” said Montero. “I was used to my days being so full. After I came to the Shipyard, I felt that volunteering was a great way to spend this new-found free time.”
Every year, shop supervisors are able to nominate an apprentice from their shop who they feel deserves the HACTE award for craft excellence. Montero will graduate with her classmates from the Apprentice Program at a ceremony later this year.
Watanabe also commended Montero for her willingness to tutor other apprentices who may be struggling with their academic workload. “Alma volunteers without hesitation and will meet with these apprentices every day after work and even on the weekend,” he said. “Because of her selflessness and commitment, these apprentices gained the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed.”
The Shipyard is a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command and a full-service naval shipyard and regional maintenance center for the U.S. Navy’s surface ships and submarines. It is the largest industrial employer in the state of Hawaii with a combined civilian and military workforce of about 4,900 and an operating budget of $563 million.
Strategically located in the mid-Pacific, the Shipyard is about a week of steam time closer to potential major regional contingencies in East Asia than sites on the West Coast.
For more information on the Shipyard, visit www.navsea.navy.mil/shipyards/pearl.
Liane Nakahara is with Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard Public Affairs