By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffry Willadsen
EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) – There are a lot of Sailors in the Navy who strive for excellence and are determined to be the best they can be. Not all of these Sailors receive recognition as a “Sailor of the Year”.
When Electronics Technician 1st Class Tracy Rico first joined the Navy, she didn’t know that some day she would become Sailor of the Year for the Navy’s Northwest Region, or be selected among the top three finalists for Sailor of the year for Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC).
Currently a leading petty officer in Naval Station Everett’s Operations Department, and a native of Altus, Oklahoma, Rico joined the Navy in 1999 for two simple, and classic, reasons: to see the world and get an education.
“I joined the Navy because I wanted to see more than just Oklahoma while earning money to get my college degree,” she said. “At the time, I had no real plan on how long I would be in the Navy or what kind of Sailor I wanted to be. I just knew I wanted to do something different for myself.”
However, as time went on, Rico realized that she wanted even more than her original goal. She wanted to achieve excellence and do something special.
“It is in my personality and nature to strive for personal and professional excellence,” she said. “I always want to do a great job because I know that it reflects on my senior leadership, command, and junior Sailors. I also want to set an example and be someone all Sailors can look to for motivation. It lets them know that anything is possible if you put in the hard work because they’ve seen someone achieve it.”
As her career continued, Rico worked hard at each command she went to, which include USS Bridge (AOE-10), instructor duty in Norfolk, USS Momsen (DDG-92), and ultimately, Naval Station Everett.
According to Rico, she learned along the way that setting high goals for yourself is one key to reaching success. If you don’t set high goals, you’ll never achieve them, she said.
“I’m always looking for the next ‘carrot’ to reach. I think it helps me become a better Sailor personally and professionally if I’m always looking for my next goal and taking the steps to achieve it,” Rico said. “I also think it helps to motivate others or inspire them to set their own goals and then work hard to achieve them.”
Over the last few years, Rico set her sights on achieving Sailor of the year.
“It means a great deal [to become Sailor of the Year],” she said. “I feel accomplished because it’s a goal that I set. It’s confirmation that I’m on the right path, leading my Sailors and that their hard work is paying off. My success is a direct reflection of their accomplishments.”
Rico wanted to offer some advice to Sailors who want to become a Sailor of the Year and generally succeed in the Navy and in life.
“It’s very important to stay humble and remember that you don’t get to where you are by yourself,” said Rico. “It not only takes your own personal dedication but also the dedication and hard work of your peers, leaders and junior Sailors, you also have to be willing to accept failure and don’t let it get or keep you down. Look at it as a learning opportunity of what not to do next time so you can succeed.”
According to Rico, being “perfect” is not the reason people succeed. Making mistakes is a normal part of personal growth.
“We all make mistakes. I definitely made mistakes, some of which led to NJP and reduction in rank,” said Rico. “However, I didn’t let it deter me or keep me down. I learned from my mistake and kept charging forward.”
The answer is to keep charging and keep pushing, she said. This is what leads to quality work, and that will get noticed.
“In the end it will show and be recognized, which will be the greatest feeling, not only for yourself, but for those who you helped and those who stood next to you offering support.”