Brunswick Alumna Earns Prestigious Chamberlain Award

Thursday, October 08, 2009
SNHU Communications Office

Eggleston wins Chamberlain
By Seth Koenig, Times Record Staff
Published: Friday, October 2, 2009 2:05 PM EDT
BRUNSWICK — At the risk of sounding cliché, one might say this year's winner of the Joshua Chamberlain Award is "out of this world."

Sharon Eggleston — a local Lockheed Martin worker who has orchestrated space-related trips and activities for thousands of school children during the past several years — will receive the prestigious honor during a ceremony on Oct. 17.

The Chamberlain Award was first presented in 1977. It recognizes the "individual whose activities have served to build upon the close relationship and the understanding existing between the military and civilian components of the" Mid-coast community.

Past winners of the award include former Brunswick Town Manager Don Gerrish and Bath restaurateur and retired master chief Joe Byrnes, among many others.

The Joshua Chamberlain Award will be presented at the Navy Ball, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. The public is invited. Base access will be provided for all attendees. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, call the BNAS public affairs office at 921-2000.

Eggleston works for Lockheed on ships built at Bath Iron Works. Her husband is retired from the Navy and her son is stationed on the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Her father and three brothers served in the Army.

"(My family) has (military service) in our blood, so to speak," Eggleston said. "I couldn't be happier. It really, truly, is an honor, and there are so many people behind me. I might be receiving the award, but there should be so many people standing beside me when I get it."

With the Chamberlain Award, Eggleston, a Brunswick resident, will add to an impressive trophy case. For her years of outreach work connecting children with astronauts, Navy sailors and the mathematics and sciences they use, Eggleston has already garnered two prestigious national awards: Lockheed's Nova Award and a Women in Aerospace Award.

"Yes, I won the Nova Award, and yes, I won the Aerospace award, but (the people who select the Chamberlain Award winners) are the people I work with and the people my kids have grown up with," she said. "These are the people who really know me."

The Chamberlain Award is given out by the Military-Community Council, which is co-chaired by Chad Schuman and Capt. William Fitzgerald, Brunswick Naval Air Station's commanding officer.

The Military-Community Council has been in existence since the 1960s.  According to a news release issued by base public relations staff, the council will continue to meet and give out the Chamberlain Award after the 2011 closure of the base.

Eggleston was nominated for the award by Capt. Dean Krestos, head of the Navy's local Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair (SupShip) office that works in conjunction with BIW.

In his nomination letter, Krestos wrote that Eggleston has been an active volunteer in the community, beginning three decades ago when her husband was first assigned to the Brunswick Navy base.

She started by coordinating volunteers at Coffin Elementary School in Brunswick and continued by organizing fundraisers for playground equipment and running concession stands at Brunswick High School hockey games. She raised a Seeing Eye Dog for Guiding Eyes for the Blind and brought the dog to schools to illustrate the importance of volunteer work, Krestos wrote.

That community work was just the beginning, according to the nomination letter. In 1989, after raising her family and re-entering the work force as a clerk at Lockheed Martin, Eggleston took classes at the local Southern New Hampshire University branch and systematically earned associate, bachelor's and master's degrees — as well as an additional graduate certificate — and rose through the ranks at Lockheed to become a senior project engineer.

With her connections in the aerospace giant as well as BIW and the Navy, Eggleston helped organize and secure funding for numerous space-related programs in local schools, including annual Space Day events, an innovative Maine astrobiology curriculum and trips to space shuttle launchings at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"Sharon has sponsored over 11 school districts, 20-plus schools, numerous museums and libraries, and literally tens of thousands of Maine students through this year-round, educational initiative which is dedicated to recognizing the extraordinary achievements, benefits and opportunities of space exploration," wrote Krestos in his nomination letter. "Sharon uses this program to encourage and inspire future generations of engineers, technicians, scientists and teachers to continue the vision of our space pioneers."

"She has embraced members of the military community from Brunswick Naval Air Station, the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, (destroyer crews) and members of the (missile system) test team to act as role models and speakers during her ‘Space Day' events, escorts for state and local dignitaries as well as astronauts, handle security of speakers' telescopes and equipment and storage of NASA's moon rocks, to name a few," he continued.

"It's pretty cool for somebody from little old Brunswick," Eggleston said Wednesday about the places she's gone and people she's met through her space education programs. "Whenever I'm out promoting something, I tell people, ‘I come from a small town, and in my wildest dreams I never would have imagined meeting (famous astronauts) John Glenn or Sally Ride, or ... getting into the simulator and ‘landing a space shuttle.'"

"I'm just trying to have kids, especially here in Maine, know that there are opportunities out there," she continued. "You just have to go out and grab them. Some of the things I've done, I had no idea how they would turn out when I started."

The Joshua Chamberlain Award is presented at the base's annual Navy Ball. This year's Navy Ball will be held on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Base access will be provided for all attendees. For more information on the Navy Ball, including how to purchase tickets, call the BNAS public affairs office at 921-2000.

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