Navy Veteran Finds Her Artistic Niche at RCBC
Friday, Nov 10, 2023

Amanda Hartman, a recent addition to the RCBC Strategic Marketing and Communications team, bravely shared her personal story as a military dependent and veteran, along with the challenges and obstacles.

Having a father in the Army, Hartman moved around a lot at a young age – starting with her birthplace in Montana, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Germany, all before age 15. Unfortunately, her father became injured while stationed in Germany, and his mental and physical disability weighed on him, ultimately leading him to take his own life. 

“It didn’t feel real at first, and it was completely weird," Hartman said. "But I always had a close relationship with my grandparents, and living with them just felt right." 

While living with her grandparents in Washington State, Hartman embarked on her military journey at 18, inspired by a visit from the United States Navy to her Senior Seminar class. Though uncertain about her future career path, she knew she wanted to avoid accumulating significant college debt. The recruiter showcased an $80,000 check during the visit and told her about the traveling opportunities that would be available, which sold her on joining.

Being a woman in a male-dominated industry came with its challenges, such as subtle comments of sexism, suggestions of promotions because of her gender and inappropriate sexual gestures. One of the most challenging adjustments was being stationed far away from home with little opportunity to communicate with her family. Despite facing numerous challenges, she doesn't harbor any regrets about the time spent. She fondly reminisces about a cherished memory from her military experience.

"As an aircraft electrician, it’s important to ensure everything runs correctly and checks are made,” she said. “One time, a pilot asked me if I wanted to sit in the pilot seat and steer the aircraft by adjusting the levers. It was one of the coolest moments."

After completing four years in the Navy, Hartman needed to transition out of the military. Her mental health was deteriorating, and no amount of influence could entice her to stay. Returning to Washington State, she became fascinated with computer science and enrolled in the nearby community college. Still, she wasn’t as passionate about computer science as design and photography. 

"When I was little, I always loved disposable cameras and capturing moments. I guess I kinda turned my hobby into my career move," Hartman said.

She enrolled at Texas State University after discovering a resource for military dependents that provided a tuition waiver for those whose parents had passed away due to service-connected disabilities. Having her sister living in Texas was an extra advantage that empowered her to relocate and chase after her aspirations. Her enthusiasm for higher education and the significance of obtaining a degree became evident. Her eagerness to join us in New Jersey, particularly to relish the four seasons again, was unmistakable.

“At RCBC, you really need to learn how to wear multiple hats, but it provides me with a better understanding of all the moving pieces. It also allows me to tap into my creative side because of the variety of flyers, posters and designs that are requested,” Hartman states.

Though her time has been short, so far, at RCBC, she has made a tremendous impact. The Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, Carol Shapcott, said, "Beyond Amanda’s design and creative contributions in her graphics and photography role at RCBC, I marvel at her incredible efficiency in completing her assignments. Her work ethic and high standards are a fantastic fit for our department."