PANAMA CITY, Fla. –
Dr. Gretchen Rivera, business data intelligence lead at NSWC Panama City Division, earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in statistics and a Master of Public Health in biostatistics from the University of Puerto Rico. She continued her education at Florida State University, where she received her Master of Science and Ph.D. in biostatistics.
Rivera moved to Panama City Beach, Fla., in 2013 and began working at Gulf Coast State College (GCSC), where she served as an institutional data analyst. After three years, she was promoted to director of Institutional Research and Strategic Planning and became a member of the board of directors for Early Education and Care Inc., on which she continues to serve in her personal time.
During the fall of 2018, Rivera hit a turning point in her career while participating in the GCSC Leadership Institute Program. She realized higher education was not her passion, and began to seek a new meaningful career path where she could keep growing her technical skills.
The realization of that passion began when she started her career at NSWC Panama City Division in 2020 as the lead data analyst for Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA). During her first year, she enjoyed learning about the command’s technical mission and being surrounded by scientists where technical discussions were fruitful. In the position, she assessed the performance of the COBRA system and contributed to mission-essential documents. In 2021, Rivera found a new opportunity within the Corporate Business Office, allowing her to expand her skillset as the business data intelligence lead.
As a collateral role, Rivera serves as vice lead of the command’s Hispanic Employment Program and mentors and inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Outreach Program.
“The collaboration across departments at NSWC PCD, the opportunity to advocate for the Hispanic community and seeing future scientists and engineers in the making, makes me excited to get up in the morning,” Rivera said.
A local team of fourth graders she mentors won two awards in the regional championship and placed eighth out of 40 teams at the First Lego League Challenge State Championship. She said she uses encouragement and a focus on empathy and teamwork to motivate and inspire.
“I told the students the success of my career has been having the empathy that’s allowed me to be a good team player and leader,” said Rivera. “You cannot be a leader and have motivated employees, if you don’t have empathy and work well with others.”