News: ‘Vanguard’ geospatial engineer maps out path to success
Story by Sgt. Bob Yarbrough
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Carmela Montoya, 27, a geospatial engineer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is proudly making maps in order to support the brigade’s mission.
Montoya, a Las Vegas, N.M., native, said she enjoys her job because she is always busy, always learning, and part of a great team. “It’s great being on such a small team, being close together, because if someone has a problem, someone else is right there to help.”
Montoya says her biggest challenge in the Army is being female.
“Sometimes people don’t realize when they are being sexist,” she said. In order to overcome this challenge, she tries to get to know people better. “When you try to learn someone’s personality and understand them better, it makes it easy to get over it.”
Montoya’s job as a geospatial engineer is to analyze terrain and make maps. She supports the brigade, the division, and the Army by providing maps custom tailored to specific missions. This gives commanders, as well as soldiers on the ground, a better picture of their surroundings and objectives.
After she finished her bachelor’s degree in social work from Dana College in 2009, Montoya was ready to do something else. She joined the Army in 2009.
Being on her first deployment, she said she was not worried about it much. “I am just doing my duty,” she said.
“The hardest part about it is being away from my family, especially my nephew Desmond. He is four, and I’d like to spend more time with him, and I’m really close with my brother and sister,” said Montoya.
“I look up to a lot of people, but I think my biggest motivation is my cousin Benito,” she said.
Benito was killed shortly before Montoya entered basic combat training. Montoya said her father’s advice when she joined the Army was to think of Benito when times got hard.
“He worked hard to get what he wanted, and to get where he wanted to be. He is a huge inspiration,” she said.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Smith, 4th Brigade’s senior geospatial engineer sergeant, says that he sees no difference between his male and female soldiers.
“I don’t treat Montoya differently. She performs to the same level as everyone else,” he said. Smith said that Montoya is a hard worker that he doesn’t have to micromanage, because she is motivated and keeps herself busy. “It’s been really good having her on the team,” he said.
Montoya’s goals for the future include finishing her master’s degree in social work.
“I’m trying to win the Health Professional Scholarship and become a 73A, social worker,” she said. “I basically go back to school for a few years, and come back into the Army as a captain, a social worker in uniform.”