Seaman Recruit Nalla O. Tejera, Division 120, graduated on Mar. 9 as the top Sailor from Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL, earning the Military Excellence Award.
Tejera, 26, said she joined the Navy for a challenge.
“All my life, I have picked up on things more easily than others and not have to struggle with much,” Tejara said. ”Therefore, having a bigger challenge to overcome would give me a greater satisfaction.”
Tejera, from Hialeah, 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 was assigned the rate of Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical).
The Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award 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 means a lot, especially since it was much unexpected,” she said. “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 3 percent of our training group. Right then, I knew I wanted to be No. 1.”
Tejera said her 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 First Class Kelvin Stennis and Aviation Ordnanceman Second 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 (Mechanical) operate, repair and perform organizational and intermediate maintenance on mechanical components of gas turbine engines, main propulsion machinery (including main reduction gears, shafts and controllable pitch propellers), 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, control ship’s service steam water chemistry.
Boot camp is approximately 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/.