By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Gretchen M. Albrecht, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs (As part of an ongoing series showcasing Naval Hospital Bremerton Navy Medicine doctors, nurses, hospital corpsmen and support staff)
Dedication and diligence are words used to describe the work ethic and mentality of Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Carlos RangelMejia, who achieved a career milestone Jan. 30 when he was selected for the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP).
RangelMejia, a laboratory technician assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB), was one of 42 Sailors Navy-wide selected for the MECP program, but his path to selection goes back to a choice he made in 2007 when, at the age of 21, he immigrated from Mexico City in pursuit of his American dream?
“I knew that if I stayed in Mexico I would not have the money to pursue my dream of working in medicine, so I made the hard choice to leave my family and come here,” said RangelMejia. “It took me seven years to become naturalized during which time I was able to work multiple jobs in the healthcare field. I have been pursing my American dream of working as a provider in medicine ever since.”
While waiting for his naturalization he worked as a care giver for the elderly and counseled troubled teens. It was exposure to so many people in need and the mentorship of providers where RangelMejia grew to love and appreciate the country that had adopted him so much that he decided to show his gratitude by joining the Navy.
“I am so proud to be able to serve my country and work in Navy Medicine. Through initiative and hard work my chain of command has taken note of my abilities and given me the tools to succeed. I started as a brand new laboratory technician and have been entrusted to floor manager, shift leader and even satellite clinic standalone technician and clinical operations recertification lead,” said RangelMejia.
For RangelMejia, work does not end in the laboratory upon liberty call. He has also served as a Basic Life Support (BLS) and Enlisted Advancement Program (EAP) instructor as well as an active participant in multiple command collaterals including as a NHB Color Guard member because he states, “I get to help ensure that our Sailors are motivated to learn and understand the importance of their role in Navy Medicine and our community. I get to promote pride in our community and my peers through service.”
With a full work load at NHB and volunteer service throughout the community RangelMejia almost missed his chance to submit a MECP package until his mentor, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Vincent Kucera, challenged him to complete it.
“Petty Officer Kucera really inspired me and helped me achieve this,” said RangelMejia. “He was the one who called me on my stubbornness and challenged me to do what I had to do in order to reach my goals. Because of that I was able to take the American College Testing (ACT) exam, interview and be accepted to my university, gather supporting letters of performance, complete medical and security clearance requirements and interview for recommendations.”
During those hectic months RangelMejia chose to pull back on studying for advancement to petty officer 2nd class in order to have the strongest package by the September deadline. He missed the advancement cutoff by 0.65 points.
“It was hard to miss advancement by such a small margin, but I made the choice to push as hard as I could towards my ultimate goal; to be a provider and help take care of people. I know that being in the Nurse Corps is the way I can do that and I am extremely excited for what lies ahead,” said RangelMejia.
With his husband and biggest supporter, Michael Baker, by his side throughout the process, RangelMejia was one of four petty officer 3rd classes selected for MECP throughout the Navy. In August of 2017 he will attend George Washington University School of Nursing in Washington D.C., to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing followed by an appointment to ensign in the Nurse Corps.
“Many saw how much work I put into this package and all of the off duty hours spent to complete it and every step of the way my spouse was with me. I am very lucky to have married someone who not only supports my morals and commitments, but is also ready to stand by me whenever I need support,” said RangelMejia. “I can truly say that the key to success is having someone right next to you who supports your convictions.”
His achievements and opportunities have made many proud including his younger who is looking to join the Navy and follow in his footsteps.
RangelMejia fondly stated, “My story is the quintessential American Dream. This is the only nation in the world where a humble immigrant with big dreams to help others and serve can come, and through grit and determination, make those dreams into reality. That is something I am very proud of doing.”