Skip navigation

Engineering student lands Department of the Navy Pathways internship

Balbina “Bella” Chichester-Constable has always been fascinated by the inside of things. The family lawn mower and TV set were fair game for her tinkering. “I love taking things apart and putting them back together again. Sometimes it didn’t work out too well; sometimes it did,” Chichester-Constable says.

Chichester-Constable joined the Navy after high school and began her career as an F-18 Super Hornet mechanic. “This was a pretty big deal for a girl who loves working with her hands. I enjoyed everything from the tools to the inspections,” she says.

After serving for five years, Chichester-Constable pursued engineering in college. She says, “I chose TCC because it had my major and was affordable. I originally considered a medical career, but I found that my love of math and physics, combined with my interest in working with my hands, made engineering a great fit.”

At Tidewater Community College, Chichester-Constable has connected with her professors and joined the Engineering Club and the Veterans Affairs Club. “Working with other students to solve problems and work through difficult concepts is amazing,” she says. “And from day one, my professors were there to help with whatever I needed.”

Chichester-Constable recently landed the Department of the Navy Pathways Internship, a program she learned about from one of her professors. Designed to attract talented students to federal public service, the internship is an opportunity for students to earn money and enhance their educational experience with training that relates directly to their major.

“Professor (Kenneth) Grimes encouraged me to apply for this four-year program. What it means is that during every school break, I have a job waiting for me,” Chichester-Constable says. “I’m working with students from other colleges, and I’m proud to be the only student representing TCC.”

At work with the Combat Directions Systems Activity, Chichester-Constable serves as a project manager of sorts. The work is technical, and after doing hands-on work in the Navy, “This internship is rounding out my experiences well,” she says.

“My time at TCC has given me opportunities to meet new people and network with other women in the engineering field. With our numbers rising, it’s a great time to pursue this career,” Chichester-Constable says.

To those coming behind her, Chichester-Constable says, “I encourage my classmates to not settle for the minimum. Success comes with time management and practice. How hard are you willing to work to follow your dreams?”

Chichester-Constable, a married mother of two young children, gives a shout out to husband, Jesse, an active duty Naval officer who is on shore duty, for his role in her success. “Having a husband who is a true partner,” she says, “has made getting this degree so much easier.”