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NEWS | May 25, 2023

Profiles in Professionalism: Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Gioranah Abellard

By Lt. Brittany Ofori, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 8

After Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, Gioranah Abellard watched Sailors help her hometown, and in that moment, she was inspired to join the Navy. 

“I wanted to be a part of that legacy,” said Abellard, who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in 2002.  

In 2016, when Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Abellard first arrived to Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, she had two goals in mind - to step outside of her comfort zone and advance her professional career.

She is currently assigned to Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron EIGHT, and deployed for her first time, in support of Operation Spartan Shield to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

Upon arriving to CLDJ, Abellard hit the ground running developing various programs for the weapons department and provided support to MSRON 8 convoys and maritime elements.

“Her initiative was paramount in making our explosive safety program and deployment a success,” said Gunner’s Mate Chief Phil Mertine, weapons department head.

While deployed, Abellard assisted in multiple international events to include a trilateral training with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force and the Djiboutian Navy on vessel boarding search and seizure and English language discussions with Djiboutian Navy Cadets.

“This deployment has afforded me the opportunity to not only work within my rate, but has given me a glimpse into how international relationships tie into the overall mission,” said Abellard.

Abellard who is always looking to advance her civilian professional career attained a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology in 2020.

“I am the first person in my immediate family to receive my Bachelor’s degree, so you can imagine how stoked I was when I was accepted into my Master’s program,” said Abellard.

As a full-time student, she successfully finished her Master’s degree while deployed.

“I am a part of the first cohort to graduate with my Master of Science in Community Medicine with a focus on underrepresented and underserved communities," said Abellard. "Also, without the scholarships and Montgomery G.I Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), I don’t think I would have been able to truly afford it.”

While Abellard has met the goals she initially set when she first started in the Navy Reserve, she has now set a new goal: medical school.

“I want to be a doctor and commission as a U.S. Naval Officer,” said Abellard.

Abellard will one day be able to help others in crisis, similar to those Sailors, who provided aid and medical services in Haiti, which first inspired her journey. 

Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti serves as an expeditionary base for U.S. military forces providing support to ships, aircraft and personnel that ensure security throughout Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. The base enables maritime and combat operations in the Horn of Africa while fostering positive U.S.-Africa relations.