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She Is...Service: New Orleans Native Ready to Serve and Inspire After U.S. Naval Academy Graduation

May 27, 2023
Amanda McElfresh, The Advocate
Amanda McElfresh, The Advocate
Hancock Whitney
Hancock Whitney

When she was in the sixth grade, Annabel Powers established a goal for herself to be accepted into the United States Naval Academy.

“I didn’t know anything about the Naval Academy until I went to summer camp and met a friend who brought it up,” Powers recalled. “I became obsessed with the honor aspect of it and I instantly knew it was where I wanted to go.”



Although the Naval Academy was new to her, there was a history of military service in Powers’ family, as both of her grandfathers served in the U.S. Army. In addition, her parents are both attorneys who instilled a sense of justice and service in Powers and her two younger sisters from an early age. Still, they were surprised when she told them about her U.S. Navy dreams. Once they realized how passionate she was about serving, they stepped in to help.

“The application process was a true family effort,” she said. “There were months filled with forms, physical tests and medical tests. I had to get nominations from Louisiana Congressmen. It’s a long process and very involved, so I was fortunate that my family was so willing to help. When I found out I was accepted, it was a huge moment of relief for all of us.”

Hancock Whitney is proud to celebrate Powers as part of the “She Is” campaign, which highlights women from all walks of life who are succeeding and inspiring others.

Annabel Powers

Photograph by Stephen Scholl

As she prepares to graduate, Powers has taken time to reflect on how life-changing her time at the U.S. Naval Academy has been. As a New Orleans native, she always had a love and talent for music and was able to hone her singing skills with the Naval Academy's Women's Glee Club, and the Riveters, an all-female a capella group, for performances. Academically, she majored in mechanical engineering and plans to use that new knowledge working in the U.S. Naval Submarine Force after graduation. But, perhaps most importantly, she has developed life skills that she knows she will use for decades to come in both the military and as a civilian.

“I’ve taken a lot of leadership and ethics classes. I’ve learned how to lead people,” Powers said. “I have an understanding now of how to figure out what makes people angry, happy or motivated. It’s so important to understand what is going on in their lives and what they respond to as an individual, so that you can support them as well as keep them accountable.”

Those are skills Powers has also developed as a big sister. She’s always felt protective over her siblings and wanted to be the best role model possible for them, whether that meant doing well in school or pursuing individual dreams. With all three at different colleges, they haven’t seen each other in person as much in recent years, but it has still been important for them to stay connected.

“We definitely call and text each other a ton and send each other funny things we see on social media,” Powers said. “Keeping in touch is really important to all of us because we want to keep building our relationships. Sometimes we’re silly and weird, and sometimes we have deep conversations, but it’s always about loving and supporting each other.”

As a proud member of the U.S. Navy, Powers hopes to share that same kind of love and support with her fellow servicemembers. According to the Department of Defense, there were 69,629 women serving in active duty in the U.S. Navy in 2020, making up 20% of its ranks. Powers said she hopes to do her part to raise those numbers in the coming years by inspiring others.

“I would tell any young women out there who are thinking about the Naval Academy to please do it. Our input is valuable and needed for mission success,” she said. “You can major in almost anything while serving your country, and have a guaranteed job after you graduate. It’s also a network and a bond like no other. Being a part of that and being able to challenge yourself and learn from others is an amazing experience.”

The “She Is” campaign is a partnership between Hancock Whitney and The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, The Advocate and The Acadiana Advocate to curate and share stories about women who are thriving – what motivates them, how they motivate others, and how women can continue to drive impact. Visit www.hancockwhitney.com/she-is for more details on Hancock Whitney’s ongoing work with female leaders and to share your own favorite “She Is” story.