If you’d like to meet someone who challenges the status quo, introduce yourself to Nilsa Swift.
“I grew up in a very traditional Puerto Rican household in the Bronx,” says Nilsa. “And for my generation, the only way you’d leave home if you were a woman was to get married or go to college. I joined the Navy.”
That challenger spirit proved important for Nilsa. She joined the Navy at 18 and initially worked as a Plane Captain in aviation maintenance. But she ran into a lot of stereotypes and discrimination about her gender and her heritage.
“A lot of people in the Navy thought I wouldn’t last in the service because I was a female, and a Hispanic one at that. Statistics show a lot of negative things about someone with my background that just aren’t true,” says Nilsa. “I wanted to prove them wrong. So I pushed through a lot of unfavorable challenges. I served as long as you can in the military and retired after 30 years of service. I started as an E1, Airman Recruit. I retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer, E9, the highest rank you can achieve as an Enlisted. During my service, I was married and had three children. I proved them wrong, and did my part to change their statistics.”
During those achievement-filled 30 years, Nilsa served mostly onboard aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific. She was on board the USS CARL VINSON (CVN70) on September 11, 2001, which became the first ship to respond to the burgeoning war in the Middle East. She was also on board the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN76) when Osama Bin Laden was buried at sea.
After she retired from the Navy in 2015, Nilsa stayed home with her children for a short time before going to work at USAA in San Antonio, Texas. She joined Schwab earlier this year and commutes most days to Schwab’s Gracy Farms campus in Austin, where she works in planning and operations in the Digital Investor Solutions team. She’s also a member of Schwab’s Military Veterans Network.
“I chose Schwab because of the purpose and vision of this firm,” says Nilsa. “I did my research and wanted to find a role that mattered to me and provided me the opportunity to keep serving in some way.”
Away from work, Nilsa is married; her husband is also retired from the Navy. They have two adult children which are currently serving in the U.S. Navy and have one son in high school. The pair run a thoroughbred horse farm near San Antonio and love spending time volunteering in Autism Network organizations.
“I feel like coming to Schwab has brought my life full circle,” remarks Nilsa.
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