By Gloria Romano-Barrera.
They embrace their role as a Latina leader and serve as a role model to motivate young Latinas interested in the military. Meet 16 Latinas who are most deserving of the National LATINA Style Distinguished Military Service Award as they have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and an outstanding potential for military service success. Positively reflecting the United States military, they are role models for other young women personifying selfless service to the nation.
“I joined the military because I felt a sense of duty,” says Specialist Melanie M. Adamski. “I have always been good with discipline and I have always wanted the brotherhood one feels from being a part of something bigger than oneself.”
Born in El Paso, Texas, Adamski enlisted in the United States Army on June 2014 and completed Basic Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
For Adamski, experiencing the 9/11 events on her screen in her apartment in California fueled the sparked to join. “I wanted to wear the best jersey of the best team in the world,” she shares.
Accepted to Tarleton State University, she is pursuing a degree in Business Administration and Psychology. Her goals are to attend Basic Leaders Course, become a noncommissioned officer. Her long-term goals are to earn her Master’s degree, become a Drill Instructor and become Warrant Officer.
“I joined the Marine Corps to make a difference, to give back to my country, and to do something no one in my family had done,” shares Sergeant Hosanna L. Feraud who was 21 years old when she made the decision to make the Marine Corps a career. “I had a wonderful child, and my husband and I wanted to give him everything we didn’t have growing up. The Marine Corps has provided my family with a strong foundation to have a better life.”
Sergeant Feraud enlisted in the Marine Corps in May of 2012. Upon completion of recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, she reported to Marine Combat Training Battalion, Camp Geiger, North Carolina.
Being a Marine has allowed Feraud the opportunity to develop her public speaking skills, confidence, and leadership skills. “We all strive to be the best, to get to the next level, to achieve more than we did the day before,” she shares. “My family is a source of strength for me, knowing that they want me to exceed makes me drive myself to be the best I can be.”
“I joined the United States Marine Corps because I wanted to thank the USA for allowing me the opportunity to stay in this country,” says Julia Y. Herrera.
Serving for 15 years, Herrera was born in Tijuana, Mexico and brought to the USA at the age of three. “I wanted to give back and thank America for all the great opportunities and most importantly my education,” she says.
From 1991 through 2006, Herrera’s military tour included: HQ Battery 11th Marines, 1st Marine Div., as Supply Admin Clerk; HQ Battalion, 3rd Marine Div., Okinawa, Japan as G-4 Operations Chief; HQ Battalion, Marine Corps Communication Electronics School, 29th Palms, CA as NCOIC Garrison Property and Supply Chief and HQ Battalion, MCAGCC/MAGTFTC, as Sergeants Course Instructor. After military service, she joined the ranks as a civil service employee. She is currently assigned as Civilian Payroll Work-Lead at G-8 Comptroller, MCAGCC/ MAGTFTC, 29th Palms. ”
A native of Brooklyn, NY and raised in Orlando, FL, Chief Alicia Cooper enlisted in the Navy in August, 2000. After basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, IL, she reported to USS ARCTIC (AOE-8) in Earle, NJ. In May 2002, she was accepted Legalman “A” school.
Her fleet assignment included Naval Support Activity, Diego Garcia; USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71); Joint Task Force 134, Camp Bucca, Iraq, Naval Legal Service Office North and Office of Military Commissions, Washington, D.C.; Commander, Naval Forces Europe/Africa, SIXTH Fleet, Naples, Italy. She is currently serving at JAG Command Master Chief and Inspector General’s Office.
Today, her family gives her the strength to move forward as she was raised by strong Puerto Rican women. “I watched my mother raise three young adolescent kids after my father suddenly passed away,” she shares. “As a mom of four kids, Carlos, Carin, Camila, and Carmen, but specifically to my daughters, I want to raise strong, smart, proud, and independent young women, who will become productive members of society. The best way I can do that is to lead by example – they are watching. They are who keep me motivated.”
“I joined the Navy to accelerate my life,” shares Petty Officer First Class Linda M. Galaviz. “Just as the 2009 Navy slogan stated.”
In August 2009, she enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After Basic Training, she reported to Aviation Electronic Technician “A” School in Pensacola, FL. Her first assignment was Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ-134) at NAS Whidbey Island, WA and deployed twice to the Western Pacific aboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) and one Mediterranean cruise aboard the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. She was advance to Petty Officer First Class at Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC).
“The opportunities for advancement, not just in rank but in all aspects of life and my career, have been overwhelming and I can truly thank the Navy for that,” she shares. “Also, the people I’ve met in the Navy have been another great part of my job. The bond you make in the military with other members is something I’ve never experienced before joining the Navy and one that is truly unbreakable.”
Alma Rubalcava, a native of Ventura County, serves as the team leader for Littoral Combat Ships Mission Module Peculiar Support Equipment in the Surface Warfare Engineering Branch of the Littoral & Strike Warfare Dept., at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme. Her career began at NSWC PHD in October 2014 as a Mechanical Engineer.
“Working for the government has great benefits,” she shares. “Working for the Navy gives the satisfaction of contributing to the nation’s safety.”
She is one of nine siblings and her parents are immigrants from Mexico. Her father, a farmworker, and mother, a stay-at-home mom, were supportive of her career choice.
Rubalcava holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, and is Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Level II certified in Engineering.
“It has been a dream of mine since the second grade to become an Astronaut. This initial dream drove me to join the Air Force, not only for the wonderful opportunities it provides but also for my love of this country,” shares Captain Marisa J. King.
Capt. King is an Evaluator Pilot for the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Barksdale AFB, LA. Capt King holds a Bachelor of Science with a focus of Astronautical Engineering. She completed Undergraduate Pilot Training in 2011 and began her aviation career as a Mission Pilot in the 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, Bagram AB, Afghanistan.
Her advice is to put your best foot forward every day and maintain balance in life. “When you self-reflect, you know whether or not you are really giving your all or just enough for the task at hand,” she says. “I am grateful for this honor, I am grateful for this country, and I’m proud to be a member of the long line of successful Latina women who continue to do great things making it the norm.”
“I joined the military because I wanted to fly,” shares MSgt. Lucero Stockett. “I have always admired aviation and wanted to give back to my country by serving in the United States Air Force. The USA has given me many opportunities that I don’t think I would have had in Mexico. My purpose was to pay back and pay forward the amazing opportunities (free school, free housing, free food) I had received as a child.”
Born and raised in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, MSgt Stockett and her family moved to El Paso, TX at the age of six.
Enlisted in the Air Force in May 2001. After Basic Military Training, reported to tech school and received the Distinguished Graduate from Basic Boom Operator Course.
“My advice would be to stay true to who you are,” she shares. “Never forget where you come from because that made you who you are today. Stay humble in everything that you do and remember that we all need help. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, don’t be afraid to fail, and most importantly don’t be afraid to fight back.”
“I joined the military soon after graduating High School in 2007 because I wanted to continue to help my family as well as improve my quality of life,” shares Technical Sergeant Carmen Washington.
She enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in September 2007.
She recently celebrated her 10th anniversary, which also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the United States Air Force. “I couldn’t be more proud to be able to serve in the world’s greatest Air Force, where Airmen aim high and break barriers every day,” she says.
Washington’s job entails a wide range of administration duties and she is responsible for overall organizational management functions such as Office Management, Executive Support, and Human Resources. Sergeant Washington has a four-year-old daughter, Jasmine Skye.
A native of Zaragoza, Spain YN1 Ainara Farina enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Babenhausen, Germany as a Pharmacy Technician. In 2004, she enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and was assigned to Massachusetts, where she solidified her interest in the Coast Guard.
She was advanced to YN3 in 2005 and assigned as an independent Yeoman in Marine Safety Office East Provide, East Providence, RI. Advanced to YN2 and reported to Miami Military Entrance Processing Station. While simultaneously raising two young boys, a teenage boy, she managed to open a successful Argentinean Cuisine restaurant in St. Louis. YN1 Farina was advanced to her current rank in March 2017. She is the first in her family to earn a College Degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from Ashford University in 2014.
“The best part of my job is knowing that I have a close relationship with those members and units I work with, as well as knowing that I am a role model for others,” she states. “The hardest part of my job is maintaining a balance between operating a small business, customer needs to the service and the needs of my family.”
“I joined. the U.S. Army immediately upon graduation from high school because I felt I was not ready to attend college and give it my all,” says Colonel Isabel Rivera Smith. “Now 32 years later, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Born in Lorain, OH, Rivera Smith has received her undergraduate degree in Human Services, graduated from Officer Candidate School, received her Masters in Education in Counseling and Development, and attended U.S. Army War College where she received her Masters in Strategic Studies.
A life lesson she has learned is to never underestimate those that work with you and for you. “It’s fair to say that personalities play a big part in working with people,” she says. “I have learned over the years to set those superficial symptoms aside, dig deep within myself and attempt to solve the issue in a manner that is beneficial for all, not just satisfy one person or another.”
“I joined the military to experience new circumstances, new challenges, and to complete College,” shares MSgt Yanira H. Gonzalez. “I wanted to do something different from everyone else in my family and become one of the first females to join the Armed Forces. I felt like I lived a very sheltered life and escaping that would help me understand what life had to offer.”
The oldest of three children, raised in a low-income family on the west side of Chicago she realized she wanted to make the military a career at age 24.
Early in her life, she served as a Projects Officer in the Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at Prosser Career Academy. She then joined the U.S. Air Force in September 2002. Currently serving as the Medical Readiness Program Manager, Office of the Air Surgeon General, National Guard Bureau, Joint Base Andrews, MD.
“Being a part of the military, I’ve learned discipline, patience, and the intricate details of how people work,” she shares. “Amongst the many life lessons that I’ve learned thus far, there’s one that’s had a major impact on my life. And that is, knowing your people. This is important because sometimes we take things for granted every day.”
“I joined the military because I wanted to serve the country,” shares Cadet Richelle Radcliff. “The U.S. welcomed my family from Cuba which then gave me the opportunity to reach the heights that I have achieved thus far in life. In return, I felt as if it were my duty to return the favor to our great Nation.”
Cadet Radcliff attends the United States Military Academy where she studies Kinesiology. She has excelled in the classroom, earning a 3.6 GPA in her major, and an overall 3.3 academic GPA. Outside of the classroom, she pursues her extracurricular activities with intense dedication and commitment.
Radcliff credits her hardworking mother for giving her the strength that guides her and pushes her to the finish line. “If it were not for her and the sacrifices she made I would not be where I am today,” she says. “She has sacrificed so much for me that the least I can do is give it my 100 percent to achieve all tasks given to me.”
Daniela Pimentel joined the U.S. Navy in 2011 and attends the United States Naval Academy as a First Class (Senior) Midshipman. She comes from Parris Island, SC where she served as a Prior Enlisted Sailor – an HM3 or Hospital Corpsman Third Class Petty Officer.
At the United States Naval Academy, she majors in Applied Mathematics and plays on the Women’s Rugby Team. She serves in the Japanese American, Navy Medicine, Navy Spectrum, Semper Fidelis, and Engineering Abroad clubs.
Her advice to Latinas is to find a mentor, set goals and execute plans for those goals. “A lot of planning is just dreaming if you don’t put it into practice,” she shares.
For this academic semester, she is serving as the Company Executive Officer as she manages the day- to-day operations of her company of 154 Midshipmen. Midshipman Pimentel hopes to be commissioned as a Marine Corps Officer.
When Falon Little was 5 years old, she wanted to be a Marine like her father, and ever since she has always wanted to be in the military.
“Even though I have always wanted to join the military, I didn’t realize that I wanted to make a career out of it until I met our Commandant of Cadets, General Goodwin,” she shares.
Little is a Political Science Major and Arabic Minor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In December of 2016, she was selected to be the Expeditionary Survival and Evasion Training Group Commander for USAFA in 2017. She led over 1,500 cadets as Group Commander. Currently the Training Officer in her squadron, Little is responsible for ensuring the proper training of over 100 cadets. In her off time, she leads the worship team at the Cadet Chapel and is currently in the top 10 percent of her class. She hopes to become a pilot in the Air Force and fly A-10s.
“I joined the military to be a part of something bigger than myself and serve my country,” says Cadet First Class Angel Fay. “My parents always told me that after high school I had two choices: to go to college or join the military; so they were not surprised when I decided to go to the USCGA. I knew I wanted to make a career out of the military during my second-class year and realized the need for Civil Engineers in the Coast Guard.”
First Class Fay is earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
She is also the only woman playing on the USCGA hockey team and participates in activities with the Academy’s largest multicultural club, compafteros.
Her advice is “to embrace your culture and implement your favorite parts of your culture into the new environment.”
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