QUANTICO, Va., Sept. 16, 2011 -- Sergeant Andrea Chica, the training non-commissioned officer and Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear NCO for Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment, 19th MP Bn (CID), Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was recently awarded the LATINA Style 2011 Meritorious Service Award at a banquet held in Arlington, Virginia.
According to LATINA Style, which showcases Latina achievements in all areas, including business, science, civic affairs, education and the arts, the purpose of the award is to "recognize military and DoD civilian personnel who through their service have enhanced the role of Latinas in their organization and honor them for their service to our country, leadership, accomplishments, and commitment to building a strong community." The criteria for military awardees include: to embody the qualities that are at the core of the service's mission, to be well respected by their superiors and peers as leaders and upstanding service members, and to display exceptional character and to treat the Hispanic community with dignity and pride. In the award announcement, LATINA Style said Chica exemplified these traits and distinguished herself by making significant contributions to her country in the area of equal opportunity, civil rights programs and public service to her local community. The presentation of the award was in concurrence with National Hispanic Heritage Month.
"When I found out I'd won, I felt so honored to be able to represent the Hispanic community in the military," said Chica. "I feel that our contribution to the U.S. Armed Forces sometimes goes unnoticed, but this award clearly shows they aren't. I feel proud to be acknowledged with this award."
The Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, COL Joe Ethridge said Chica "truly epitomizes the command's Equal Opportunity goals and objectives, and the furthering of equality for all through diversity."
"Sergeant Chica has, by example of her personal life and professional career, supported the full integration and promotion of all individuals and encouraged the participation of Hispanic women within her sphere of influence," wrote Ethridge. "Sergeant Chica has not only developed her own potential with great success, but she also dedicated her efforts to creating and expanding opportunities for others. She is a unique asset to this command."
Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Chica's family moved to Ridgefield, N.J. when she was three. After high school, Chica had a few paths to choose from and she decided to join the Army in July 2006.
"I joined the Army to make a new life for myself and to create better educational opportunities," she said. "I wanted to go to college after high school, but I didn't want to put that financial burden on my parents … the Army was the perfect opportunity to meet that goal, it's given me so many opportunities."
Chica recently graduated from the Advanced Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and is currently working on a bachelor's degree, but she is not finished yet. She said she is continually seeking to better herself, to be a better Soldier, a better role model for Latinas.
"I still have a lot to learn, but I can see myself being in the Army for 20 years," she said. "The thing I'm most proud of in my career so far is the fact that I get to lead Soldiers," she said. "I am very grateful to my mentors and leaders who have given me the opportunity to lead."
Her advice to Latinas -- never give up and never forget where you came from.
"Just keep pushing forward," she said. "Be proud of who you are."
For more on CID go to www.cid.army.mil