Rachelle Stewart works in Southern California for Wells Fargo, helping Team members develop their customer service skills. Rachelle is also a United States Marine. I asked Rachelle to give us a personal history that contributes to GBH’s recognition of Women’s History Month. Rachelle is a great banker and a great American, as her story reveals. But her story also demonstrates that one person doesn’t just watch history roll past — she actively creates it. (CR)
I enlisted at the young age of 17. As a former pageant queen and cheerleader of a small Southern town in east Tennessee, I entered into service to our country and continued that journey for 8 years, achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. During my years of service from 1998-2006, I supported numerous training exercises in North America, Australia, Denmark, Norway, and Japan. My occupational specialty was Aircraft Maintenance for rotary and fixed wing.
While serving, I was very fortunate to receive the Montgomery G.I. Bill , along with academic scholarships, and complete my Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to combat , from Middle Tennessee State University in 2002. I was activated from the Reserves after 9/11, to support Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom from coast to coast across the United States. Had it not been for an unexpected diagnosis of a chronic heart condition, I would still be in the fight for democracy and protection of the American way of life.
The Marine Corps is known as “The Few, The Proud.” Just how few women Marines there are may not be quite as well known. Females make up only 6% of the entire fleet. That is approximately 11,500 women contributing to the overall strength of what has become known as “America’s 911,” the United States Marine Corps. As the only branch of service to segregate by gender during boot camp, the Corps establishes the foundation of the core values — Honor, Courage, and Commitment — while maintaining equality among all Marines. Women are forged into leaders, disciplined in the traditions of 234 years of God, Corps, and Country and remain Semper Fidelis (Latin for “Always Faithful,” the Marine Corps motto) to our mission and purpose.
Terms like “Devil Dog,” “Leatherneck” and “Jarhead” are just as endearing to us females as to our male counterparts, because those names must be earned. Honor causes women Marines to hold themselves to the highest standards of excellence, ethically and morally. We define courage as the ability to face and overcome fear. It will steady you in times of stress, carry you through every challenge and aid you when facing the unknown. A spirit of determination and dedication is the commitment one finds in every female Marine. It is what compels her to serve and to seek excellence in everything she does.
These are the attributes I brought with me to Wells Fargo nearly 5 years ago while still serving in the Corps, then as a Reservist. I came to our company with a desire to exceed expectations and share my leadership abilities within a prosperous and highly developed organization that is deeply rooted in its history….
I have been able to advance quickly through Retail positions and now am a part of Learning and Sales Development for Southern California Regional Banking. I am the Metropolitan Representative for the Inland Empire and San Diego areas for the Wells Fargo Military Veterans Resource Group — a Community of Practice. Our mission is to support and educate members of our Wells Fargo community who share an interest in veteran matters. We network with our team members and the community through outreach efforts to promote greater veteran awareness while supporting Wells Fargo’s business strategies, vision and values. We also promote opportunities that enhance the professional growth and development of our membership.
This role enables me to actively encourage the support of fellow team members who serve our country. I also provide fundamental information to Retail store team members about our commitment to honor the customers who serve our country, through tailored products and services available to meet their financial needs.
In addition, I am a member of the American Veterans Legion in my home state of Tennessee, volunteering my time to visit and partner with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in my area. Recently, I have connected with my local Red Cross to assist families of deployed service men and women.
In my Wells Fargo office you will find a number of books that tell an intriguing and perhaps surprising story of who I am, where I am from, and where I am going. On a shelf next to Jack the Dog, lies a copy of Stagecoach by Philip L. Fradkin. Nearby are worn editions of My Life as a Jarhead by Ralph Walker-Willis, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War , and The Gift of Valor by Michael M. Phillips. Two other books fill that same shelf are The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and Women of Faith Study Bible. The relevancy of these books ties to the purpose of this blog: to honor those from our past who paved the way for women of the present and future.