By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain L. Marquez
Personnel Specialist 1st Class Zhe Liu was born in Xi’an, China but grew up in the bustling metropolis of Beijing. After her mother married a retired U.S. Air Force firefighter, the family moved to San Diego, where, at the age of 20, Liu would soon follow in her stepfather’s footsteps to become a U.S. citizen and servicemember.
“Before I moved to the States, my father gave me different career paths that I can pursue,” said Liu. He told me about joining the military and all of the great benefits, including traveling. I did some independent research on the different branches and I thought the Navy aligned most with my personal beliefs and values.”
Before becoming a top-performing first class petty officer, Liu found herself adjusting to life in another country where she had a limited language proficiency.
“When I moved here, I knew very basic English and enrolled in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class for a year,” Liu said, who after several years of adjusting to life in America, made the commitment to enlist as a Navy Reserve Full-Time Support Sailor.
“When I took the ASVAB, my recruiter gave me a couple of career options,” she said. Her options were either as a boatswain’s mate or machinist’s mate — neither of which matched up with her future career goals.
“I was mostly interested in human resources and financial management,” she said. “So I told my recruiter I didn’t intent to start a career about something I wasn’t passionate about. A year later, he reached back out to me and said there was an opening for a Navy Reserve Full-Time Support personnel specialist.”
She jumped at the opportunity, and after spending five years serving with the “Broadarrows” of Patrol Squadron 62 (VP-62) and Navy Operational Support Center Long Island, she transitioned over to become a Selected Reserve Sailor (SELRES) to devote more time for college.
“I went SELRES because I wanted to pursue my higher education,” said Liu, who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management. “When moving from different areas every couple of years, I don’t know how long it would take me to complete my school. I also wanted to get experience from a civilian career. I feel in the Navy Reserve, you have autonomy to choose your path in a civilian career and on the other side, you have the comradery from serving in the military.”
Over the years, she has learned that her Reserve job not only feeds her passion to help others, but also supplements the Navy Reserve’s operational readiness, particularly at the Navy Reserve headquarters where she is currently mobilized supporting the virtual mobilization division at Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC) in Norfolk.
When she returns home in July after her mobilization, Liu says she will begin her graduate program at New York University to pursue her goal to become a certified public accountant. She also plans to work toward a commission as an officer.