Ray Montague (1935 -2018)

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Raye Montague’s remarkable journey from Arkansas to becoming the U.S. Navy’s first female program manager of ships is a testament to her unwavering determination and groundbreaking achievements. Born in 1935, Montague’s passion for engineering was ignited when she was seven years old and inquired about the qualifications needed to work with submarines during a visit to a captured German submarine in World War II.

Despite being told that it wouldn’t be possible for her to have that type of career, Montague’s curiosity and drive led her to pursue her dreams. Denied admission to the University of Arkansas’ engineering program due to racial discrimination, she refused to be deterred, earning a degree in business and honing her skills in computer programming and engineering through night classes while working for the Navy in Washington D.C.

Montague’s perseverance was inexhaustible! In order to accept a third-shift position that would advance her career, she bought a car and learned how to drive. During the Nixon presidency, the Navy was challenged to design a new ship in two months, a task that would typically take two years. Montague completed the job in 18 hours and 56 minutes.

Raye Montague Youtube Video

Despite facing innumerable obstacles throughout her career, Montague continued to excel and rise through the ranks, eventually earning the civilian equivalent rank of captain. Upon her retirement in 1990, she remained an active volunteer in her community. She was a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Montague continued to use her platform to encourage others and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the field of technology.

She died of congestive heart failure in 2018. Her perseverance is not only an inspiration but also an illustration of how Black women have always been difference-makers and disrupters of systems.

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