By Courtney Griggs, Fort Sill CannoneerJanuary 20, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla -- Fort Sill Fires Center of Excellence has a new Soldier of the Year. Sgt. Whitney Mondragon was selected as Soldier of the Year after being elected Soldier of the month and Soldier of the quarter. The 23-year-old said she joined the Army for a better life for her and her now 4-year-old daughter. "What made me join was a better lifestyle than what I was living," said Mondragon. "I had a daughter and she influenced the decision. We deserved better." Mondragon is currently in signal communications with 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery, one of the Training and Doctorine Command units that trains initial entry Soldiers, and wants to be an artillery instructor for advanced infantry training Soldiers. She said a lot of hard work helped her win the title. "There was a lot of studying and hard PT," said Mondragon, whose physical training score was 346. The psychology student has several goals set for herself in the upcoming years. "I really want to go airborne," said Mondragon. "From there, I want to deploy and I think that will put me in a good hand to be a drill sergeant one day. I plan on making the Army my lifelong career. I hope that by the time I retire I am a sergeant major." Even though she is currently in school pursuing a degree, Mondragon said she has no desire to become an officer. "I am happy enlisted," explained Mondragon. "At one point, I looked into going to Officer Candidate School, but it\'s not something I want to do right now. I love working with the Soldiers hand in hand and watching them grow. I heard from the officer's side that you don't get that contact. I want the contact." Mondragon has won a few awards in her three years in the Army. "I have one Army Commendation Medal from winning Soldier of the Quarter and two Army Achievement medals," said Mondragon. Mondragon has advice for anyone thinking of joining the Army. "If you stay focused on what you want, you can get it," said Mondragon. "You just have to continue trying hard and stay focused on your main goal. It took a lot of hard work to get where I am. Whatever I do, I put as much as I can into it."