NEWS | July 15, 2022

Profiles in Professionalism: YN2 Marytere CortonOquendo

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Raymond Maddocks, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command Public Affairs

Yeoman 2nd Class Marytere CortonOquedo, a Puerto Rico native, has had to rely on her perseverance on many occasions throughout her life, perhaps none more so than in September and October of 2017. It was during these months that Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean and the Southeastern coast of the United States.
 
Over the course of the week following the hurricane, all of CortonOquedo’s possessions were destroyed. She was left without power and she lost her job. Finally, on the eighth day after the disaster, she was able to leave Puerto Rico for her mother’s house in Orlando, FL with nothing but two bags of clothes and fifty dollars in cash.
 
Once arriving in Orlando, she began working at a restaurant and selling jewelry, but she felt light years away from achieving her long-term goal of becoming a lawyer. However, after hearing about the U.S. Navy’s in-service procurement program for law school, she decided to join the Navy as a Training and Administration of the Reserve (TAR) Sailor.
 
“I was reluctant to join at first, because I need to be there for my son,” said CortonOquendo.
“But when I learned more about TAR, I decided I would be able to balance both aspects of my life in the Navy—both my family and my career.”
 
Upon arrival to Yeoman Class “A” school in Meridian, Mississippi, CortonOquendo set a goal to become the honor graduate of her class so she could be promoted to third class petty officer upon graduation. Given the language barrier, however, this would be no easy task.
 
“I struggled a lot, because English is my second language, but I was not going to let that stop me,” said CortonOquendo. “I worked hard, and, by the end of ‘A’ school, I was the honor grad.”
 
Now assigned to Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command, CortonOquedo serves as an administration clerk in the N7 training department. As the training hub for the headquarters of the Navy Reserve, CNRFC N7 plays an important role in the “Train” line of effort outlined in the Chief of Navy Reserve’s 2022 Navy Reserve Fighting Instructions (NRFI).
 
CortonOquendo has a direct impact on training the force in her normal role and also maintains oversight of her code’s equipment as departmental supply petty officer.
 
“When the command assessment team conducts command inspections, I am involved in a couple of ways,” said CortonOquendo. “As the supply petty officer, I am responsible for conducting an inventory of the team’s gear and making sure everything is functioning properly. Then, after the inspection, I do the paperwork that certifies the commands if they pass, or outlines the corrections they need to make if they fail.”
 
CortonOquendo enjoys her job as a Yeoman in the training department, but her ultimate goal is to become a Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer.
 
“She is so vital to the work we do in N7,” said Lt. Marc Oswald, the Professional Military Education and Joint Professional Military Education program manager, who works closely with CortonOquendo. “It’s clear to me she will be successful in whatever she does because of her willingness to ask questions and not accept the status quo.”
 
So far, CortonOquendo has satisfied all of the requirements for the in-service procurement program, except for time in service.
 
“I made second class, I have my bachelor’s degree, but you also need to have five years in [the Navy] before you can apply,” said CortonOquendo. “But as soon as I am eligible, getting accepted into the program will be my main focus.”
 
While continuing to advance through the enlisted ranks as a Yeoman, CortonOquendo plans on learning as much as she can in order to strengthen her leadership skillset and deliver the maximum positive impact to the Sailors in her charge.
 
“I still have a few years before I can apply, so for now my focus is on becoming an expert in my rate and developing my leadership,” said CortonOquendo. “It is important to me to know my job well, because I want to be respected, and I can’t expect people to respect me if I don’t know my job.”