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Remarkable woman: Trailblazer in Tampa Bay touching lives in her different roles

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Rachel Hughes is the kind of woman who sees a challenge and faces it head-on. Although she has been many places and done many things, it has all been for the benefit of others.

Her resume reads like an over-achiever’s handbook. Hughes retired from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office as a lieutenant who was in charge of the hostage negotiation team. Before that, she served 22 years in the military over three wars.

She was a trailblazer the entire way.

“I was the first female candidate in the 70s that they tried the new pantsuit on,” she recalled. “We had to wear skirts in military police – running around in law enforcement in skirts!”

A large painting of young handprints that is in her home highlights the many lives Hughes has impacted as a 7th-degree black belt karate instructor.

“I suppose I have touched a lot of my kids’ lives,” she said. “They’ve grown up to be FBI agents, doctors, scientists.”

That in itself is remarkable.

Yet the role she’s most proud of now is her latest title – Methodist minister.

“I just kept following my heart where God was calling me and the doors just kept opening,” Hughes said.

In addition to all she does, Hughes also cares for her two sisters who are disabled and live with her. So there is no question about it – her days are full.

The road hasn’t always been easy for Hughes, but her approach is always the same.

“I went for it. If I got knocked down, got right back up and I did it again,” she said.

Any recognition she’s had along the way, she has accepted with humility.

“I followed my heart and my passions and I got to live my passions,” Hughes said. “It was a fantastic journey.”

Hughes does have some good advice for others: Be simple and direct.

“There’s no excuses. Nothing is given to you. You get up and you earn it. And you go for it.”

Hughes did just that and she has never looked back.

Our Remarkable Women finalists will be revealed every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Each of the finalists profiled on WFLA were nominated by friends, family or the people impacted by their work. The winner of our local Remarkable Women Contest will receive a free trip to New York City and attend the Mel Robbins show.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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