Paula Jardine’s a Country Girl with a Heart of Courage
Growing up in Miramichi, Paula never dreamt that one day she’d be driving a 440 foot warship at 20 to 30 knots.
Paula is a Maritime Surface and Sub-surface (MARSS) Officer in the Canadian Navy.
They are part of a group of naval officers that generally go on to serve as line officers for the Navy and take command positions. In this capacity, Paula has served as an Officer of the Watch, a ship-borne air controller, a deck officer on the HMCS Fredericton, and has served on active duty in the Persian Gulf.
“I got my pilot’s license when I was 18,” said Paula. “But I didn’t feel ready for the conformity of joining the Air Force just yet.”
After a couple years of working in local industry, Paula went on to get a degree in Perceptual Psychology from St. Thomas University, with a minor in Mathematics from UNB in Fredericton. “I felt the math would keep my options open,” said Paula.
Having graduated with first class honours with distinction, she started her PhD, and then tried some small business consulting. “Neither of these cut it so I decided to go for a career in the Armed Forces,” said Paula. “My degree led to my quick acceptance as an officer.”
“There were challenges,” explained Paula. “I was intimidated by the ‘concept’ of the military and I was worried that my past experience wouldn’t be of any use.” Paula soon realized the hardest challenges were those that she placed on herself. “I questioned myself a lot,” said Paula. “But when I got beyond that, everything else was surmountable.”
“The Navy environment was encouraging,” said Paula. “It’s a fantastic place and one of the best places for a woman to make good money and be judged fairly.” Paula didn’t find any of the stereotypes placed on her that she had anticipated.
The reality is that being a naval officer is a tough job and very demanding, but Paula is quick to point out the positives. “The rewards are fantastic!” exclaimed Paula. “I’ve been around the world three times, seen China, the Samoan Islands, the Mediterranean, Australia, New Zealand… what an opportunity to see the world and get paid for it!”
One of Paula’s most memorable opportunities in the armed forces was teaching for two years at the naval base in Halifax. “It was extremely satisfying to give all you’ve got to 20 people and really brighten their minds,” said Paula. “It’s so great to get back a hundred times what you give.”
Down the road, Paula expressed an interest in doing a Master’s and a PhD. However, for the time being, she’s happy to remain active in air control. “I get to retire at 46, after 20 years of service,” said Paula, “so I have lots of opportunities ahead of me!”
“I’ve never been more satisfied with my career choice,” said Paula. “It brought me so many positive life experiences, and I was able to do all sorts of things that I’m passionate about while being rewarded for all of my hard work.”
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