A True Servant Leader: CDR (ret) Beth Hartmann, USN

by Krista Morris-Tworek

I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was painfully obvious when I was a junior in high school. I sat there staring at multiple college applications. I had excelled at math and science. But I wasn’t the kid who grew up building masterpieces from Legos or trying to determine how a battery worked. Somehow, mostly through my cousin’s influence, I ended up attending Iowa State University (ISU) and joining the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering program. That’s where I met Beth Hartmann.

photo provided by Krista Tworek

It was sophomore year and the class was all about project management.

Beth Hartmann was the class Lecturer, later full-time Professor, in the program.  Immediately, I was enthralled by her mannerisms. The way she held herself. The confidence she displayed. And the enthusiasm she did everything with. In the engineering program, I had not met anyone else like her. A renowned sense of vigor overcame me when I sat in Beth’s class. For the first time, I saw a woman in my field who I wanted to emulate.  

I had gone into my sophomore year a little disheartened. Most women in the Civil Engineering Department were graduating. I wanted to be in the field managing multi-million dollar projects. But I didn’t know any women personally who were doing this. This was back in 2009 when the job market wasn’t optimistic. The economy was lacking. Then Beth offered me an alternative.

Beth Hartmann retired from the United States Navy in 2009 as a Commander (O5) in the Civil Engineer Corps after 20 years of service.

She’s traveled extensively, managed million-dollar contracts for Naval Facilities Command, and was proficient at design project management. She came back to Iowa State, her alma mater. for both her undergraduate and graduate years. A licensed Professional Engineer with a Ph.D. She knew teaching was her next calling. Beth taught the construction engineering learning community and the civil/construction engineering design-build capstone course. A class, all graduating seniors of the program had to pass. But even before I was a senior, Beth set me on a new path for the future.

Wandering around at the college career fair, looking for a summer internship. Back before everything was virtual. My hard copy resumes in hand. Wearing my most professional attire. I stopped by the military recruiting booths like always. To say hello and “thank you for your service” due to my father’s own service in the Marine Corps. I believe Beth saw me saying hello to the Navy recruiters. It came up in conversation one day soon after.

photo provided by Krista Tworek

“Have you ever considered military service?”  

“No, I haven’t”

All of a sudden, it became all I considered. I thought. “I want my own enthusiasm for life to be welcome on the job site and I want to exude the confidence she displays wherever she goes.” Beth became my first real role model. We began working on the application right away.

The Navy’s Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program (BDCP) is the best-kept secret. The program provides financial assistance to undergraduates to complete their degree program. Candidates attend Officer Candidate School or Officer Development School to obtain their commission. Technical degrees are preferred for this program. And at the time of my application, Civil Engineers and those planning to attend the Nuclear Program were the most desired. To be considered the candidate has to be in good academic standing, display strong leadership skills/potential, and meet the requirements of their degree program. With Beth’s help, I applied and was accepted. I was going to be a Navy Officer, just like her, upon graduating college. 

I’m not the only one Beth Hartmann has helped pursue this career path over the past 11 years. 

She’s assisted at least seven others become Civil Engineer Corps Officers, including two other students from my graduating class. She was featured in the 2014 Women Impacting ISU calendar. In 2015, she was awarded the College of Engineering Superior Adviser Award. Then in 2016, she was named Engineering Student Council Academic Adviser of the Year. And those are just a few of her accomplishments.  

Ten years later, Beth is still the person I call when I need advice about anything and everything. 

She does not just care about the people in her life. She truly loves them. Her enthusiasm never diminishes. No matter what life throws her way. We recently met via a zoom call, and I realized Beth doesn’t know what the word “retired” means. Even though she’s not only a retired Commander but also retired from teaching full-time. She continues to impact student’s lives every day. Beth is the true definition of a servant leader.

About the Author:

Krista Morris-Tworek has over eight years of worldwide construction experience as an O3, Active Duty Navy Lieutenant, in the Civil Engineer Corps. Krista is often referred to as a Lion because she is known for her courage to speak out and be a voice for others. Her favorite pastime is curling up on a rainy day with her husband and a glass of Merlot. However, she can be persuaded out for a cup of coffee and the chance to make a new friend. 

By the way, if you ever take the Professional Engineer exam, particularly the construction depth portion. You might want to consider picking up a copy of the Construction Depth Practice Exams. The same one I used to pass. On the cover, you’ll notice the author is Beth Lin Hartmann. 

Beth Hartmann was the class Lecturer, later full-time Professor, in the program.  Immediately, I was enthralled by her mannerisms. The way she held herself. The confidence she displayed. And the enthusiasm she did everything with. In the engineering program, I had not met anyone else like her. A renowned sense of vigor overcame me when I sat in Beth’s class. For the first time, I saw a woman in my field who I wanted to emulate.  #womenshistorymonth #militarywomen #navy #womenshistory

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