Seaman Recruit Nalla O. Tejera, Division 120, graduated as the top sailor from Recruit Training Command, earning the Military Excellence Award on March 9. Tejera, 26, said she joined the Navy for a challenge.
“All my life, I have been able to pick up on things more easily than others and I didn’t have to struggle with much,” says Tejera.
“Therefore, having a bigger challenge to overcome would give me a greater satisfaction.”
Tejera graduated from Hood College in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts and minors in management and art history.
Prior to enlistment, she worked as an officer manager for the City of Miami Beach Planning Department.
Tejera, of Hialeah, was assigned the rate of Gas Turbine System Technician. The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award (MEA) is the top award presented to the No. 1 recruit of their graduating training group. The MEA is awarded to the recruit that best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military bearing, and teamwork. The award placed her at the pinnacle of today’s newest sailors. Tejera is awarded a flag letter of commendation. Bootcamp brought out a competitive edge in Tejera.
Winning the MEA meant a lot, says Tejera, especially since it was so unexpected. “I came into boot camp wanting to be top of my class, but I never thought I would be the No. 1 recruit of RTC. About two weeks before graduation, they told four of us that we were in the top three percent of our training group. Right then, I knew I wanted to be No. 1.”
To Tejera, the toughest part of boot camp was transitioning from civilian to sailor. “Being Hispanic, I’ve been known to talk with my hands, therefore, maintaining military bearing was difficult,” she said. “One tactic I used to overcome that was to not to think about it and just focus on the 10-yard stare.”
Tejera credited her Recruit Division Commanders, Chief Gunner’s Mate Ray Cureton, Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Kelvin Stennis and Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Ashley Anderson for their leadership and guidance. She also thanked her shipmates for their support.
“During tough and stressful times here at boot camp they were there for me,” Tejera said. “The females of Divisions 120 and 119 always had great words of encouragement and were always very positive.”
After graduation, Tejera will attend the Gas Turbine System Technician “A” School at Training Support Center, Great Lakes. Gas Turbine Systems Technicians operate, repair, and perform organizational and intermediate maintenance on mechanical components of gas turbine engines, main propulsion machinery, assigned auxiliary equipment, and propulsion control systems. They also maintain and operate ship’s service gas turbine generators and support systems, maintain the controllable pitch propeller system, and control ship’s service steam water chemistry.
Boot camp is about eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting, and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. About 30,000 to 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.
For more news from Recruit Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/rtc/.