GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- "I didn't go all the way over there to lose."

She didn't. Staff Sgt. Vanessa Carrillo from 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy was selected as the Basic Leader Course Facilitator of the Year in a new competition hosted by the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence at Fort Bliss, Texas, Oct. 15.

"She's the one representing the academy and it speaks to the quality of instructors that we have here," said Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Smith, commandant of the 7th Army NCOA. "We have the reputation of being a top NCO training institution. We really have excellent, committed instructors, and she is a perfect example of that."

The two-phase competition encompassed representatives from 33 NCO academies across all components. First, NCOs underwent packet reviews including a taped class instruction, an essay, instructor credentials and recommendations. Nine finalists were then selected to attend the two-day final phase involving the Army Combat Fitness Test and Army Physical Fitness Test, re-working class instruction and lesson plans to fit in a time limit, and a mystery event -- answering a five-question, 50-minute essay.

Smith explained that the NCO instructor position is a very demanding and time-intense. Individuals in these positions have to be dedicated and committed to leader development and taking care of Soldiers.

"Because of the caliber of Soldier, NCO and person that she is, we knew that she would do well and represent the academy," said 7th Army NCOA's 1st Sgt. Shanett Robinson, citing Carrillo's work performance, and ability to train and assist her peers and subordinates. "She's very competent in everything that she does. You give her a task and it's going to be done proficiently and to standard."

She added that it was important for other NCOs within the Grafenwoehr and Vilseck communities to see Carrillo's example because while the NCO instructor job is very demanding, it is also very rewarding.

After almost a year and a half at 7th Army NCOA, Carrillo's advice to other NCOs considering the position is to consider the commitment and the knowledge base needed to help others on their paths to being leaders.

"We're teaching junior Soldiers that are going to be sergeants -- this is the very first step in a leadership career," she said. "They'll test you. They're going to ask you a lot of questions. You have to be prepared and a lot of that comes from your experience. If you don't know doctrine, if you don't know a lot of Army standards, you're not going to be fit for this position."

Her experience in the competition and serving in the instructor position has strengthened her skills and capabilities to continue to help fellow Soldiers become better leaders through the rest of her career.

"There's a lot that I've learned here and when I go back on the line, I can teach other Soldiers there and help them get ready for BLC," she said. "Get them more proficient."

Interested in attending Basic Leader Course or being a Small Group Leader at the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy? Visit www.7atc.army.mil/NCOA for more information.