An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


All in the Family: Mother, Son Attend Same AERR 20 Years Apart

31 May 2023

From Cheryl Dengler, Naval Education and Training Professional Development Center

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Chief Navy Counselor Cameron Pritchett found himself sitting in the same seat his mother sat almost 20 years earlier while attending the Navy Counselor (Counselor) (NCC) Advancement Examination Readiness Review (AERR) in Pensacola, Florida, in May 2023.
230530-N-N0443-8011 PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 30, 2023) – A flashback photo of now retired Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson posing in front of a helicopter. Both Patterson and her son, Chief Navy Counselor Cameron Pritchett, attended the same Navy Counselor (Counselor) (NCC) Advancement Examination Readiness Review 20 years apart. (Courtesy photo)
SLIDESHOW | images | All in the Family: Mother, Son Attend Same AERR 20 Years Apart 230530-N-N0443-8011 PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 30, 2023) – A flashback photo of now retired Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson posing in front of a helicopter. Both Patterson and her son, Chief Navy Counselor Cameron Pritchett, attended the same Navy Counselor (Counselor) (NCC) Advancement Examination Readiness Review 20 years apart. (Courtesy photo)
230530-N-N0443-8010 PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 30, 2023) – A flashback photo of now retired Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson, right, posing with son who is now a command counselor for U.S. Pacific Fleet, Chief Navy Counselor Cameron Pritchett, left. Both Patterson and Pritchett attended the same Navy Counselor (Counselor) (NCC) Advancement Examination Readiness Review 20 years apart. (Courtesy photo)
SLIDESHOW | images | All in the Family: Mother, Son Attend Same AERR 20 Years Apart 230530-N-N0443-8010 PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 30, 2023) – A flashback photo of now retired Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson, right, posing with son who is now a command counselor for U.S. Pacific Fleet, Chief Navy Counselor Cameron Pritchett, left. Both Patterson and Pritchett attended the same Navy Counselor (Counselor) (NCC) Advancement Examination Readiness Review 20 years apart. (Courtesy photo)
230517-N-YR423-6350 PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 17, 2023) – Chief Navy Counselor Cameron Pritchett, reviews references while attending the Navy Counselor (Career) Advancement Examination Readiness Review (AERR) in Pensacola, Florida, May 17, 2023. Both Pritchett and his mother, retired Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson (not pictured), attended the same Navy Counselor (Counselor) (NCC) Advancement Examination Readiness Review 20 years apart. (U.S. Navy photo by Cheryl Dengler)
SLIDESHOW | images | All in the Family: Mother, Son Attend Same AERR 20 Years Apart 230517-N-YR423-6350 PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 17, 2023) – Chief Navy Counselor Cameron Pritchett, reviews references while attending the Navy Counselor (Career) Advancement Examination Readiness Review (AERR) in Pensacola, Florida, May 17, 2023. Both Pritchett and his mother, retired Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson (not pictured), attended the same Navy Counselor (Counselor) (NCC) Advancement Examination Readiness Review 20 years apart. (U.S. Navy photo by Cheryl Dengler)


Pritchett, a command career counselor for U.S. Pacific Fleet, traveled to Pensacola to take part in an AERR—a panel which brings together fleet subject matter experts for one to two weeks to review and develop material for enlisted advancement exams.

Pritchett’s mother, retired Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson, attended the NCC AERR in 2004 and remembers being thrilled to find out she would attend.

“I was so very excited when I heard the news I was selected to assist in writing the NCC exam,” said Patterson. “I learned how to write a question, learned how every question written had to have the reference and page number associated with it, and how important the bibliography is.” 

Patterson relived those feelings when she found out her son would write exam questions as well.

“I’ve always encouraged Cam to take every opportunity to contribute to his rating and the Navy,” said Patterson. “I definitely wanted him to feel the joy (and pain) that goes into creating a Navy exam. I love that he is working with Marsha, who taught me so much about exam writing.”

Marsha Parnell, a team leader with the Navy Advancement Center (NAC), worked with both mother and son in their respective AERRs twenty years apart.

“It was so rewarding but also humbling to work with both Cyndi and Cam and see the commitment to excellence that she passed on to him,” said Parnell. “Working with a mother and son almost 20 years apart is not something I’ll see repeated during my career, so that made the moment very special to me.”

Pritchett echoed his mother’s beliefs about augmenting the future of his rating when he found out he would attend the AERR.

“I feel extremely lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to not only give back to my rate but the Sailors in the fleet as well,” said Pritchett. “Being able to do something she did and carry on that legacy is truly inspiring for me and I just hope I can have the same impact in the rate she had.”

Pritchett stated his mother had a great impact on his career and inspired him to always strive for success.

“My mom is my hero and my star chaser,” said Pritchett. “She set the path for me to follow and provided a pathway for me to be successful. She’s so inspirational from what she did in her career and was able to accomplish.”

Though this was Pritchett’s first experience attending an AERR, having a mother who previously attended offered its advantages.

“My mother told me to have fun and enjoy the experience as not everyone is able to have this amazing opportunity,” said Pritchett. “She also told me to soak in the moments like this and to take advantage of this opportunity to give back to my community, and to go back and recommend to everyone possible to sign up for the AERR as well.”

Though Patterson enjoyed attending, she acknowledged the hard work put in by the attendees.

“It was tough, long hours, but it was great knowing you had a hand in the future success of those in your rating,” said Patterson. “I learned so much from the professionals who led our team—how to write a question as well as tying each question to the regulations, instructions, and rate training manuals.”

Though many things have changed in the 20 years since Patterson attended, when it comes to the AERR, there are some things that remained the same.

“The Navy has grown and changed so much, yet some things remain intact,” said Patterson. “I love that Cam got to meet Marsha, who was the same team leader I had. I’m sure I was a pain to her with my million questions and I don’t doubt he asked a million as well.”

Parnell also reflected on the similarities and differences of the process over the years.

“Due to technological advances, we’re able to do more things electronically now than 20 years ago,” said Parnell. “This has helped us to streamline our processes and accomplish more during an AERR by working efficiently. But our emphasis on validating each item and tying it to a page in a reference continues to be of utmost importance.”

One common belief upon which Patterson, Pritchett, and Parnell all agree – the Sailor is the most important part of the AERR process.

“My mother said to make sure to do right by the Sailors and to do the hard work,” said Pritchett.

Parnell agreed. “I tell every group that the work is hard and the days are long, but to always remember the Sailors who are taking our exams,” said Parnell. “They deserve our best!”

Both gratitude and pride fill mother and son due to each other’s successful naval careers.

“I am proud of Cam and the opportunities he continues to enjoy in his Navy career,” said Patterson. “His father was also in the Navy and we live vicariously through him and his sea stories. NCC Pritchett, keep your head on a swivel and make a difference each day. Your mom and dad are so proud of you.”

Pritchett echoed that sentiment when expressing gratitude for the example his mother set.

“I never intended to follow her exact footsteps as an NC, but amazingly enough it just worked out that way,” said Pritchett. “I just hope my career is able to be half as good as hers, and I hope I can help others the way she did. If I’m able to do that then I know I did her proud!”

As part of the MyNavy HR Force Development team, NETPDC provided products and services that enable and enhance education, training, career development, and personnel development throughout the Navy. Primary elements of the command include the Voluntary Education Department, the NAC, and the Resources Management Department.

Additional information about NETPDC can be found at https://www.netc.navy.mil/NETPDC.
Guidance-Card-Icon Dept-Exclusive-Card-Icon