Enlisted Empowerment—The Female Perspective: SK1 Shantel Guillory

Blog series created by YN3 Courtney Myers

This is the second in a series of Q&A blog posts highlighting enlisted female leaders serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. Be sure to check back monthly for more career insight, mentorship and inspiration.

Shantel Guillory work selfieWhat do your daily duties entail?

My daily duties include managing FORCECOM’s property, which includes four units, as well as overseeing and assisting 29 outlying units that fall under FORCECOM. I also approve funds for tuition payments and reimbursements for about 400 Coast Guard members who are currently in Grad School or an advanced education program.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career?

Well, there have been so many memorable moments over the past 16 years that I will never forget, but the most special moments of my career have been every time I’ve re-enlisted. To me, making the decision to continue to serve my country with honor and pride is so special and priceless and something I am very proud of. So, I’ve made sure to have people I look up to for guidance, support and encouragement to administer the Oath of Enlistment to me in very special places. From the levees in New Orleans 9th Ward, in an HH65-Dolphin helicopter over the Atchafalaya Swamp in my home state of Louisiana, a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in front of future Coast Guardsmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines, to the very spot where Martin Luther King Jr. stood as he gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, in Washington, D.C.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is the customer service I get to provide to the advanced education students regarding their education program. Customer service is what being a Storekeeper is all about. Anytime I’m able to interact with and assist people with their needs, it makes me pretty happy because I know I’ve done my job.

Shantel HQDid you ever feel like giving up? If so, what made you keep pushing?

There was one time that I felt like giving up and I was going to get out of the Coast Guard. I actually had separation orders. At the time, I just felt like my work and home life wasn’t in sync and I couldn’t make it work. It was a very stressful time for me. I was a young single mother to a 3-year-old and a newborn, and many days I had to be at work at 0430 or get off at midnight. I didn’t have any nearby help. It was rough. But I took a deep breath in, exhaled and pushed through that time in my life. I reminded myself of the most important things in my life, or shall I say people, and those are my children. I reminded myself that I am all they have and they depend on me. It’s my responsibility and my obligation to them to ensure they have the best life. They look up to me and depend on me, and so it’s because of my children that I can push through anything no matter how big or small. I don’t get so overwhelmed anymore. Tough times are only temporary. I believe that things always get better.

Do you feel as though you have faced obstacles that your male counterparts have not?

Fortunately, I have not faced any obstacles that my male counterparts have not.

Do you have a hobby that you enjoy outside of work?

I wouldn’t say I have a personal hobby outside of work because the majority of my time is spent making sure my children are enjoying their childhood. But when I do have a little free time for myself, I like to bake and do some arts and crafts projects.

Is there anything particular you do outside of your Coast Guard service to maintain your personal identity?

Outside of work I’m just a dedicated Mom to my children. It’s literally all about them. Fashion shows and photo shoots with my daughter, and birthday parties and play dates with my son.

Do you ever find it difficult to balance mom life and operational life?

SK1 Shantel Guillory with her children

SK1 Shantel Guillory with her children

Yes, I am a mother to a 13-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. I have been a “full-time” single parent the entire time. It’s always difficult trying to balance my obligation to my children as their mother, the person who is solely responsible for every aspect of their life and my obligation to carry out my duties and responsibilities that contribute to the overall mission of the Coast Guard. But you know, I’ve been so blessed to have great supervisors and great commands, as well as the wonderful friends and family I have in my life, balancing work and home hasn’t been as hard as it could be. I simply take a deep breath, exhale and push forward.

What advice would you give to young women thinking about joining the service?

Stay focused and believe in yourself. Set goals and don’t be afraid to put in the work to achieve them.

What is the most valuable lesson the Coast Guard has taught you in regards to leadership?

The Coast Guard has taught me that being a positively effective leader is so vital to this organization for high retention and success among its members—the people who make the Coast Guard great. As a leader, I believe it’s so important to really get to know the people you are leading. Encourage the use of their strengths to set them up for success all while carrying out the missions of the Coast Guard. It’s a win-win situation.

If you have used Tuition Assistance, please tell us about your experience.

I have used Tuition Assistance before in 2003 and again in 2016. I’ll say my experience was a pretty quick and easy process.

Shantel with mentors

SK1 Shantel Guilory with her mentors, LCDR Nicole Burgess and CWO2 Nichole Glosson.

Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you go about choosing this individual?

I have two mentors. LCDR Nicole Burgess and CWO2 Nichole Glosson. I wouldn’t say I “chose” them as my mentors. It just happened because it was meant to be. Both of these women and I share similar backgrounds personally and professionally. They are always there to inspire and support me in every aspect of my life, from giving me resources for studying for my Service Wide Exam to parenting advice. The list goes on but I’m going to stop or else I will get emotional.

What’s your favorite sea story (that you wouldn’t mind being published)?

Short story: the year was 2000 and I was stationed on the USCGC Jarvis homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii. Let’s just say someone started talking to me while I was making the non-skid mixture and I lost count of how much thinner I had poured in. So basically I went on leave for three weeks, deck force laid the no-skid and it never dried. Too much thinner! Yeah, so I got a phone call from my BM1. He was not very happy that I was on leave and the non-skid had to be taken up and re-done. Thankfully, no one said anything else about it when I got back.

If there was one thing you wish you would have known when you reported to your first unit that you know now, what would it be?

I don’t think there is anything I wish I would have known when I reported to my first unit. It was 16 years ago and a lot of things have changed in the Coast Guard to move forward with the times and I’ve been able to adapt to those changes with ease. I had just turned 18 years old when I reported to my first unit. I was young and ready to learn new things. The Coast Guard was my first and only job. Sometimes I think back to the beginning and I’m so grateful and I feel privileged to have been able to learn and experience so much. I’ve had a great career so far and I’ve had the best people in my life.

Shantel Guillory reading to students

SK1 Shantel Guillory reads to elementary school children in New Jersey.

Are you a Coast Guard member in search of a mentor, additional leadership or just a push in the right direction? Do you have rating questions and need a brain to pick? If so, SK1 Shantel Guillory has expressed interest in being a mentor and invites you to ask questions and share your experience. She can be reached via Global.


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