Midshipman Recognized as Recipient of Distinguished Military Service Award
POSTED ON: Saturday, October 1, 2022 10:14 AM by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jordyn Diomede
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month – observed from September 15 to October 15 each year – the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) and the entire Navy and Marine Corps team celebrates the many contributions made by our Hispanic American service members across the globe.
In particular, one Hispanic American midshipman is being recognized as a 2022 Distinguished Military Service Award recipient by LATINA Style Magazine.
Midshipman 2nd Class (junior) Alondra Reyes has lived all over the U.S. throughout her life. A daughter of two immigrants from Mexico, she decided to attend the Naval Academy to give back to a country that had given her parents a home.
“I knew I wanted to serve in some capacity, and the opportunity to attend the Naval Academy was one I couldn’t pass up,” she said. “It’s a chance for me to make a difference, and be someone for other Hispanic women to look up to in the future.”
During her time at USNA, she has earned the respect of community leaders, her superiors and her peers, said Lt. Marissa Cruz-Lemar, an instructor in the English Department and the officer representative for the Latin American Studies Club.
She reached out to the Latin American Studies Club in search of a candidate to nominate for the Distinguished Military Service Award, which led to the president of the club suggesting Reyes. Cruz-Lemar has been an instrumental part of Reyes’ journey here at the academy, pushing her to submit articles and poems for a variety of awards.
“Alondra is the perfect recipient for the Distinguished Military Service Award not just because of her formal leadership roles amplifying the Latinx community, but also because of her commitment to inspire others to reach their full potential,” she said. “She has a powerful ability to share her own experiences as a Latina in uniform in a way that feels universal and uplifts others.”
It wasn’t until Reyes’ second semester of her plebe year that she first encountered a Hispanic woman in uniform. For her, she wants to be the person she was looking for in high school to look up to.
“I hope that as a mentor, I can be the person that I always wished had mentored me,” she said. “As a mentor, I'm meant to guide and share my experiences, but it has been a privilege because truthfully, I think I have learned more from those I’ve mentored. I’m learning more about myself, how I lead, what I am looking for in the people I lead and so on.”
While serving as a detailer during Plebe Summer, she had the opportunity to meet and mentor Midshipman 4th Class (freshman) Lydanice Ruiz-Gonzalez from Puerto Rico.
“It means a lot to me to have someone like Midshipman Reyes to talk to,” said Ruiz-Gonzalez. “She is an incredible person, full of energy, and enthusiastic. She is really passionate about what she does without exception. I admire her for her personality as a leader, being herself, and putting her values in front of everything.”
As her detailer, Reyes was able to identify with things Ruiz-Gonzalez encountered throughout the summer based on her own difficulties as a plebe.
“Plebe year is hard for everyone, but I also faced some extra challenges,” said Reyes. “I didn’t feel at home because I didn’t have a military family and my parents aren’t from this country.”
It was an adjustment arriving at the Naval Academy, and one she hoped to make easier for her fellow midshipman.
“She understands me really well since she knows how that feels because of her experience,” said Ruiz-Gonzalez. “She encourages me to step out [of my comfort zone] and be more confident in myself.”
During the summer, Reyes said she saw Ruiz-Gonzalez at her lowest, but also saw her dominating the physical events and helping her classmates along the way. Even after the completion of Plebe Summer and the start of the academic year, Ruiz-Gonzalez and Reyes still communicate.
“I can see she works harder every day to become better, and the confidence in her is something inspiring,” said Ruiz-Gonzalez. “I see her as a person to follow and admire because it helps me to remember that no matter what, be proud of where you are and improve yourself. I really love where I come from and who I am, and she inspires me to seek the confidence I still need to work on.”
Since the inception of LATINA Style’s Distinguished Military Service Award in 2004, more than 191 women have been recognized as successful, accomplished, and impactful Latinas serving in the military.
Reyes was recognized for her achievement during the LATINA Style’s 19th National LATINA Symposium and Distinguished Military Service Awards event held in Washington, D.C., Sept. 29.
“What's impressed me most about Alondra is that she’s extremely courageous,” said Cruz-Lemar. “She’s willing to put herself out there in a way that not a lot of people are comfortable doing. Alondra’s not afraid to try; she’s not afraid to share; and we’re all better for it.”
As a midshipman, mentor, and friend, Reyes strives to take advantage of all the opportunities provided to her.
“Just go for it, even if you think you can’t do it,” she said. “Take the chances, even if you don’t think you deserve them.”
Category: General Interest, Midshipman