Navy promotes first woman mortician to Senior Chief
Sometimes we have to be reminded of how wide reaching a career in mortuary science can be. I’ve been an advocate of mortuary schools not only training students to become competent morticians but of also asking them to teach Financial Literacy and Business Economics so that those who begin as embalmers and staff morticians have a pathway to promotions to the business side of the profession should they so choose.
Yet, I’m always amazed at what I learn when I search out current articles about the profession. There is so much opportunity out there for competent funeral directors if you just look for it. Nobody should be stuck working for a business in death care that does not make it rewarding for them.
I came across this article from the Defense Visual Information Distriubtion Service that is about Senior Chief Petty Officer Jessica Zugzda. According to the article, Senior Chief Zugzda recently was promoted to become the Navy’s second mortician and first woman mortician to earn the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.
According to the article, “Reaching this milestone has been an accomplishment seemingly out of reach for so many Sailors. Now, the future is wide open for aspiring young women in the mortician community”. And, here’s what Senior Chief Petty Officer Zugzda said about that fact, “I want my junior sailors to be able to see their future doesn’t have a cap on it. They can continue to grow, excel, and achieve the unachievable.”
Zugzda pointed out her path to this position. . . like so many who become morticians it was a family friend mortician who transformed her path from aspiring forensic pathologist to funeral director. She mentions that it was in the 11th grade that she “. . . . .was able to speak with him about his career and different aspects of his job, and I decided then that was what I want to do.”
Zugzda joined the Navy in July 2004 and says this of her experiences, “It has made me a stronger, more knowledgeable person and leader. I’ve had the opportunity to serve alongside some wonderful people in places I never thought I would get to see.”
According to the article, Zugzda is now stationed alongside the U.S. Air Force at their Dover, Delaware, base.
Here are some other exerpts from the article:
- (Navy morticians) rotate to different duty stations around the globe, as many other service members do. Her current assignment is with the U.S. Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations.
- While many Sailors do not know that morticians exist in their ranks, camaraderie comes from being part of such a small, specialized group.
- They (Navy morticians) all have to be certified before joining the Navy; there are mortuary schools around the country they must attend.
- They (Navy morticians) hold great pride in being the only branch of the Department of Defense with enlisted funeral directors and embalmers. Navy morticians are a specific enlisted job classification within the hospital corpsman rating.
Funeral Director Daily take: As existing funeral directors and funeral home owners these kind of articles are really required reading at some points. Many times, especially when we are looking for good team members we sometimes tell potential morticians and employees about the opportunities at our funeral homes, but fail to tell them about other opportunities in the greater death care world.
Licensees may start as staff morticians and may eventually find out that there is one aspect of death care they really enjoy. . . That may very well be prep room work, but it could be in business or in preneed, or in community relations. In any regard, we need to make sure, as owners and mentors, that we can help facilitate their interests and ambitions for the greater death care profession. . . . . and sometimes that might mean losing a great employee to the preneed or Navy world!!!
More news from the world of Death Care:
- Our View: “Can crematoriums be good neighbors?” The Bakersfield Californian (CA)
- Coroner baffled. The Sand Mountain Reporter (AL)
- Myths and legends of Cedar Creek Cemetery haunt the minds of local residents. The Mercury (KS)
- Burial ground in Wyoming County joins Forest Lawn Cemetery and Crematory group. Buffalo News (NY)
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