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NEWS | Nov. 10, 2022

Profiles in Professionalism: Ensign Maria Banzuelo

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

NORFOLK, Va. -- Ensign Maria Banzuelo was born in the Philippines, lived much of her young life in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and moved back to her home country for college, completing her bachelor’s in business administration. She was in a strong position in life: a well-educated, driven businesswoman poised to thrive in her home country.
However, when her mother suggested more opportunities would be available to her in the United States, Banzuelo decided to take the leap and move.
“I saw the opportunity to further my education in the United States, so I pursued my master’s in business administration,” said Banzuelo. “I was very proud that I was the youngest to have an MBA in my class and the first in my family.”
Upon graduation, she secured a full-time job, yet she still wasn’t satisfied.
“I just felt like something was missing," said Banzuelo, "so when the opportunity came to join the Navy, I jumped at it."
As an undesignated seaman, Banzuelo heard about the supply corps and set an immediate goal to become a supply officer (SUPPO).
“When I first heard about the job, I knew that’s what I wanted to be doing, so I began working toward striking logistics specialist (LS),” said Banzuelo. “I hoped by being an LS, I could learn the basics of logistics and get a better understanding of how things are done until I met all the requirements for SUPPO.”
Unfortunately, Banzuelo didn’t become an LS. She was selected to become a ship’s serviceman (SH) (a rating now called now called retail specialist), but it was a job specialty that still placed her directly in the supply department.
“I loved my time as an SH, especially when we were on the ship,” said Banzuelo. “Deployments and underways can be hard, but we had a good team. We always got our work done and we were able to make it fun.”
Banzuelo said she was able to learn a lot about the Navy supply process. She went to SH “A” school as well as records keeping “C” school.
After having a child while on shore duty, Banzuelo had a tough decision to make. All of the sea billets available to her were on ships scheduled to deploy shortly after her arrival on station. She had to balance her young family's needs against a high-tempo deployment rotation schedule.
“It was a hard choice because I still had things in the Navy I wanted to achieve, but in the end, I decided it was just too soon to leave (my child) for so long,” said Banzuelo. “So at the end of 2019, after eight years of active duty, I decided to transition to the Navy Reserve.”
As part of her transition to the Navy Reserve, Banzuelo also cross-rated to yeoman (YN). She had some administrative experience acquired while on shore duty at Camp Pendleton, and she wanted the advancement opportunity provided by a more open rate.
“When I went to the Reserve side, I kept my goal in mind, but I still wanted to advance as an enlisted Sailor in the meantime,” said Banzuelo.
Not long after, both of her goals were accomplished: In 2020, she was advanced to yeoman first class and, in 2021, she was notified of her selection to receive a commission.
In March of 2022, she officially commissioned as a Naval officer. According to Banzuelo, even though her road to commissioning had its share of challenges — from doing all the extra work to build a strong package, to obtaining an age waiver and transitioning from the active to Reserve side — provided her with reaffirmed confidence in her ability to adapt and succeed.
“Growing up in different parts of the world has helped me be as adaptable as I am," said Banzuelo. "I am used to constant changes, so I've learned how to roll with them.”  
According to Banzuelo, the ability to adapt and overcome is an important quality, one she brings to both the Wardroom and her Reserve unit.
“The supply corps motto is "Ready for Sea," and as a SUPPO, I will have to do whatever I can to make sure my command is warfighting ready,” she said.
Banzuelo is proud to have accomplished her goal, but she knows this is only the beginning of her journey as a Naval officer.
“Now that I've received my commission, I need to complete officer development school and finish the three phases of the SUPPO basic qualification course," she said.
Banzuelo is looking forward to a number of things about her new role, from learning new areas in her field to taking on increased authority, but there is one thing she looks forward to the most.
“My biggest goal is to deploy on a ship as a SUPPO,” said Banzuelo. “When I make lieutenant, I want to transition (back) to active duty. I think my time as an enlisted Sailor in the supply division will help me be a better SUPPO, and help me better relate to — and lead — my junior Sailors.”