STUTTGART, Germany (Army News Service, Sep. 19, 2008) -- Representing the Hispanic community for the United States Army, Sgt. 1st Class Dolores Rivera of the 52nd Signal Battalion accepted the 2008 Latina Distinguished Service Award during the National Latina Symposium Sept. 5.

"I am still in shock, I feel like there are other Latinas out there that deserve this," Rivera said.

Latina Style Magazine and the Department of Defense sponsored the event. A representative of the magazine and the principal director from the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, Department of Defense, came together to give the award out to the representatives selected from each branch of the military.

The award ceremony and symposium is in its fifth consecutive year, always landing in September, and is the only of its kind.

"It was an honor just to be nominated and an even bigger honor to actually win," said Rivera.

SFC Rivera currently works at 52nd Signal Battalion as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the personnel office in the battalion. She is from Weslaco, Texas and has served in the Army for 19 years.

According to the magazine's Web site, the symposium is a one-day event specifically geared toward Latina empowerment. The goal is to ascertain, through round-table discussions, as well as in-depth surveys, the status of the Latina professional working woman in the United States.

Rivera attended the event with her sister and her battalion commander, Lt. Col. James Pugh. "She inspires great leadership amongst all whom she works with. We are very fortunate to have such a talented and dedicated NCO in this unit," said Pugh.

Maj. Thomas Moran, executive officer, 52nd Sig., worked on Rivera's packet while she was on leave. The battalion received a tasker and "her name jumped to mind, it was a no-brainer," said Moran. "She is an outstanding NCO; she is skilled in her field, and she doesn't hold onto the information, she shares it with those around her."

"She is in the ranks of one of the best NCO's I have ever worked with. It's her professionalism, her attitude, and her care for her subordinates and peers," said Moran.

Rivera is taking the win in stride.

"I am not the type of person to talk about the things that I do," said Rivera. "I do what I am told; I do what needs to be done to complete the mission."

The symposium did have an effect on her though.

The trip was an eye-opener, I realized that I did something outstanding," Rivera said. "I am proud that I have accomplished so much."

Her win and mentorship has impacted her Soldiers.

"She was a great mentor, a great coach," said Staff Sgt. Carlos Flores, European Command, J-4. Flores worked with Rivera from almost three years. "She always led by example; she was fair across the board," he said. "She followed the NCO creed, treated her Soldiers with respect, and reinforced the Army values."

"I am surprised she didn't get it earlier. I am extremely proud of her," Flores added.

Rivera is a single mother with a daughter, Reyana, 13. She has her master's degree in education with a 4.0 GPA.

"She really motivated me to finish up my college so I could get my E-6," said Flores. "I looked at her doing her master's as a single parent. She was not just saying, she was doing."

In her unit, her impact is also felt.

"I see her as a positive role model...for both males and females, regardless of background," said Moran.

When asked what she tries to impart on her Soldiers and daughter, it is to "have respect for yourself and others, be true to yourself, and be honest with yourself."

(Staff Sgt. Elizabeth A. Sheridan works for headquarters 5th Signal Command, Public Affairs Office)