WASHINGTON D.C. -- The Sea Service Leadership Association hosted The Joint Women's Leadership Symposium Aug. 21-23, bringing together the largest gathering in the nation of women in uniform with a theme of "Building Bridges. Changing Cultures."

One of those in attendance was 1st Lt. Danielle Nuszkowski, executive officer from A company, 249th Engineer Battalion stationed on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Nuszkowski was formally recognized with the JWLS Meritorious Service Award during this year's symposium.

Captain Adam Cartier, 523rd En. Co. commander submitted Nuszkowski because she stood out amongst her peers by making a positive impact through her involvement, leadership role, and for her outstanding contribution in affecting policy and promoting the diversity in the Army.

"This service award was a result of more than my singular efforts. I have been blessed with an amazing unit and selfless Soldiers that have stood shoulder to shoulder with me giving back to the community," said, Nuszkowski. "The human spirit they embody has motivated me past my comfort zone, and the award is a testament to this."

Nuszkowski is not stranger in pushing herself to be the best while learning from those around her. At West Point, She excelled in women's swimming breaking academy records. The military has played an important role in shaping her life she explained.

"Mentors and a support team is absolutely crucial for progression. Mentors are great and often have provided me with great perspective to keep me grounded after a moment of failure," said Nuszkowski. "They have humbled themselves and helped me learn through their mistakes and they are always a source of encouragement."

Two role-models she spoke of were Deborah Lee James, 23rd Secretary of the Air Force and Brig. Gen. Jill Faris, Deputy Surgeon General for the Army National Guard Department of the Army. During the symposium, James said that it is incumbent upon all leaders to pay it forward and mentor others. Nuszkowski said that those words are very true.

The JWLS had more than a thousand service women from around the world to include Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Korea and Japan.

"It was very neat to see a gathering of so much diversity and potential," she said.

Nuszkowski further said that diversity is an integral element to any team hoping to break barriers and build bridges.

The JWLS experience was one of kind as she explained, "For ladies, this experience is great because it is the first time I was in a place where absolutely everyone was uplifting others with powerful stories and nuggets of wisdom. For men, this is a great experience for them to share their perspective and strengthen the bond between men and women in arms."

As Nuszkowski reflected back on the award she received, she summed up how she felt about the symposium by quoting a line from a Randy Travis song -- "It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you. It's what you leave behind you when you go."

"I think the JWLS event gracefully embodies that concept," She said. "All the attendees understand that our awards, decorations and evaluations will fade. But the impact we make on others, the tools we give others to success, the knowledge we leave behind will continue to live on."