Debra Strachan, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Washington electronic acquisition specialist, retired after more than 36 years of federal service.
Strachan grew up in Suitland, Md., where she graduated from Suitland High School at the age of 16 in 1981. She started working at an early age. At the age of 15, she worked at Suitland Nursing Home as a housekeeper. An administrator at the nursing home encouraged her to become a nursing assistant, which she did. With that training, Strachan continued to work there an additional four years until the privately owned nursing home closed.
“The Navy Yard has been in my family for three generations,” said Strachan.
Her grandmother and aunt worked at the Washington Navy Yard. Her mother retired from NAVFAC Washington. So, it was only fitting that Strachan began her federal government career with the Department of the Navy on the Washington Navy Yard as a clerk typist in the Management Analysis Division in June 1984. She was quickly promoted to a secretary in 1985. In November 1986, Strachan was selected for an upward mobility program as a computer specialist, where she was trained to become a certified Wang System/database administrator. She installed and configured new networks at each field office in 1991. Between 1997 and 2005, she joined specialized teams to head up the establishment of SPS and eContracts.
“I am actually an Electronic Acquisition Specialist,” said Strachan. “I have always enjoyed working with computers and systems. Troubleshooting issues and resolving them has always been a strong point of mine.”
Although she enjoyed troubleshooting and solving issues, Strachan also enjoyed working with her team members at NAVFAC Washington.
“The members of my team all perform unique duties. Each of us worked together to accomplish our mission and provide value to the command. We all worked well together. We were like family. I will miss them deeply.”
Her advice for aspiring interns who plan to work in the federal government: “Be patient, humble and proactive. Work hard and let your passion and enthusiasm shine through.”
During her career, she had many memorable experiences. But what stands out to her the most is traveling to different places. She felt fortunate to have the opportunity to travel the country and meet wonderful people. However, her proudest moment was getting her 35-year pin and award.
“It has been a pleasure to serve the Navy and our country for the past 36 and a half years. I want to thank NAVFAC for the trust and confidence they have had in me over these years. As I depart, I want to say how proud I am of all of my users. You are the rock stars! I will truly miss you. Thanks for all you do! Peace!”
Strachan is married with three “four-legged fur babies.” They resides in Upper Marlboro, Md. Her goals in retirement include working on projects around the house, crafting and eventually travel.