As part of our series “What Does a Woman Veteran Look Like”, Women Veterans Alliance would like to introduce you to Navy Veteran, Kathy Takayama.
I am Kathy Takayama, a U.S. Navy brat (my father retired as a captain of more than 30 years, including time served as a POW at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War) and a Navy veteran myself.
I served four years as a naval nuclear power instructor in Orlando, FL, where we provided training for officers and enlisted men who went on to operate our nuclear powered air craft carriers and submarines. Since I was an applied mathematics major at the University of California, Davis, (where a recruiter pulled me aside and said, “Have I got a deal for you!”), I started by teaching enlisted math but quickly moved to teach reactor theory.
In my last two years, they trusted me with a leadership position (just two years out of college!), as division director of the officer mathematics department. I exited as a Lieutenant Nakagawa (maiden name) with a Navy achievement medal. I’m also particularly proud of my expert pistol and expert rifle ribbons. When asked if I ever served any time at sea, the answer is yes – a 4-hour tour, which was just long enough to peek through the periscope of the sub after traveling beyond the horizon.
Since leaving the Navy, I found my passion as a program manager at Hewlett Packard, leading teams of R&D (research and development) engineers developing new products and solutions for enterprise customers. I’ve also spent time as an information technology (IT) consultant, and certified Microsoft and Novell instructor.
While at the Hewlett Packard’s Roseville, CA, site, I was one of the founders of our Veterans Employee Resource Network, where our team of veterans and veteran supporters raise awareness, help veterans and volunteer in the community.
I am married to my husband, Mike, and my son Ryan is currently majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada. In my spare time, I enjoy remodeling my house, photography, golfing and cheering on the San Francisco Giants – go Giants!
Photo by James R. Morrison Photography
View other women veteran stories: