Rear Adm. Alma Grocki discusses her experiences and offers encouragement during a meeting of U.S. Army Pacific's Sisters in Arms. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Diana Quinlan)

HONOLULU - Rear Adm. Alma Grocki, director of Fleet Maintenance for U.S. Pacific Fleet, spoke with members of the U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) Sisters in Arms program during an event at Aliamanu Military Reservation Chapel, April 10.

The theme of the gathering was education and the importance of lifelong learning.

"I would challenge you to go out there every day, every week, every month and learn something new," Grocki told the audience. "You don't have to be an expert at it, you don't have to be really good at it, but at least you will learn how it works, how it is done and if you really enjoy it – it can be a new hobby for you."

Grocki shared how her work ethic and experiences helped her throughout her career.

"Not everyone understands what you go through in the military, the experiences you have and how much they are worth," Grocki said, adding that she's often asked if she felt she had to work harder than her male counterparts. "Yes, absolutely," she said. "I think I did work harder, but that was me. Nobody said that I had to work harder. If I do my job and I do it well and it gets recognized then that's all I can ask for."

Army Maj. Kelly Stewart, USARPAC's personnel officer and an executive steering committee member for Sister in Arms, which provides a forum for discussion and sharing of knowledge, said Grocki offered valuable advice to the group.

"I think this is a great program to mentor junior officers, and in this case, younger soldiers," Grocki said. "There are many things and questions that people have in common, and if I'm able to answer any of questions or give a perspective then it's a valuable experience for everybody here to interact like this."

Stewart couldn't agree more.

"We are here to empower women to continue to advance professionally in their career, so we provide a forum for professional development and mentorship," said Stewart. "It provides an environment where people can get together and meet one another. It drives the forum for us to meet and speak and know one another and learn from one another."

Army Spc. Nanci Crank commented how Grocki provided her with insight.

"Rear Adm. Grocki inspired me a lot and I will continue to get educated and maybe stay in the military," Crank said. "She inspired me to keep pushing and set your own goals; don't just keep climbing for nothing."

Grocki was born and raised in Honolulu and was the first woman from Hawaii appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Sisters in Arms program was designed to assist in empowering women by developing bonds and partnerships between junior and senior leaders, both military and civilian. The program welcomes anyone and everyone, regardless of gender, who is interested in educating themselves on the issues in today's armed forces; strive to better themselves and their community and willing to improve upon various roles of women in the military.