Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.
Guest blog post by Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau
I work as a statistician in the Human Resources Division at the U.S. Census Bureau and my responsibilities include reporting on Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results for the bureau and working on policies and issues related to excepted-service field data collection employees.
I grew up on the Navajo reservation spanning parts of New Mexico and Colorado. We lived off the grid and were ranchers with livestock that needed daily attention. Summers meant camping on the outer parts of our land and sleeping under a blanket of stars. We explored on horseback and lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle free from the world outside the traditional Navajo culture. This lifestyle meant my brothers and I learned to be responsible and self-sufficient at an early age. Being the only girl in the family meant I had to be fearless if I wanted to keep up with all my brothers.
When I graduated high school, there were no opportunities on the reservation so I enlisted in the military. The military offered me an opportunity to pursue higher education and to serve in an honorable profession. I started going to school part-time and got an Associates degree in Logistics with the Community College of the Air Force. Later I got a B.S., in Social Science with a minor in Journalism. I made some lasting friendships and after 25 years, I retired and completed my M.A. in Applied Sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Outside the workplace, I help my husband with our small business most weekends. When you are in business, you have to be willing to adapt so you can provide the type of service that sets you apart. We have to network, be informed and sensitive to the economy just like our customers so it is a constant balancing act to remain competitive in an ever-changing market.