The crew of the cutter Harriet Lane conducts a vertical replenishment evolution with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew during their patrol in the Caribbean. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Camisha Moore)

Four Coast Guard Recipients Honored with 2020 Latina Style Distinguished Service Award

Lieutenant (LT) Gabriella Deza, CG Air Station Borinquen; Culinary Specialist Second Class (CS2) Phyllis Almaraz, USCGC HADDOCK; Dr. Elizabeth Rivero, CG Academy; and Cadet Second Class Nayalina Tamariz, CG Academy, were recognized as the 2020 Latina Style Distinguished Service Award recipients.

This award recognizes women in the military and the civilian workforce who, through their dedicated and exemplary service, have influenced and enhanced the role of Latinas in the Coast Guard and across the Nation.

Excelling as an MH-65D helicopter pilot, LT Deza earned advanced day and night shipboard landing and rescue hoisting qualifications, flew 256 hours, and executed 13 search and rescue cases, saving three lives from the perils of the sea. In addition to her assigned duties, she volunteered as chair of the Leadership and Diversity Advisory Council and cultivated an inclusive command climate through several innovative educational initiatives. As one example, she admirably partnered with Sector San Juan to coordinate a Women’s Leadership Council to promote retention through career planning and focused mentorship.

CS2 Almaraz skillfully employs her strengths in the galley, prowess in the boxing ring, and passion for mentoring to advocate for and develop her peers in the Hispanic community. As CGC HADDOCK’s Food Service Officer, CS2 Almaraz has introduced her unit to the authentic flavors and rich traditions of the Mexican culture with which she grew up. She consistently impresses the crew with the Latina inspired dishes that she curates without any pre-prepared ingredients. In addition to her cooking duties, CS2 Almaraz serves as a Spanish translator during Counter Drug and Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations. Beyond work, CS2 Almaraz’s fighting spirit drives her passion for the sport of amateur boxing where she has earned back-to-back Golden Glove championships. CS2 Almaraz has used her success both in the Coast Guard and in boxing to promote understanding, respect and inclusivity for all.

Dr. Rivero joined the faculty of the Coast Guard Academy as an Associate Professor of Spanish and teaches across the curriculum including courses in Advanced Spanish and The Latin Experience: A Cultural Approach. She is also the faculty advisor for the Compañeros Diversity Council, an affinity group made up of more than 50 cadets. In that role, Dr. Rivero prepares cadets to be Latinx cultural ambassadors. She also tutors them for the DoD Defense Language Proficiency Test. Her educational initiative has achieved tremendous success having equipped at least a dozen cadets to act as shipboard translators upon graduation. Dr. Rivero’s outstanding mentorship and development of cadets into future leaders serves as a model in the armed forces.

Cadet Second Class Tamariz succeeds in all aspects of cadet life, from the classroom, to the barracks, and to the field of competition. She maintains a 3.90 GPA while majoring in Operations Research and Computer Analysis and serves as a peer tutor for cadets who require additional assistance. In addition to her academic success and accomplishments, Cadet Second Class Tamariz is president of the Compañeros Council affinity group. Always going the extra mile, she recently served on a panel sponsored by the Admissions Department focused on inclusion for prospective members of the Class of 2024. Exemplifying the traits of a well-rounded cadet, she is also a member of the women’s cross country and track and field teams, and has run distance events such as the 5,000 meters.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Latina Style recognized award winners during a virtual National Event on Friday, September 18, 2020.

The following nominees were also recommended for this award and deserve mention for their outstanding contributions: Chief Petty Officer Georgina Smith, CGRU USSOUTHCOM; Chief Petty Officer Megan Sesma, USCG Band; Senior Chief Petty Officer Jessica Montero, CG Academy; and Ms. Margaret Holman, CG Exchange System, VA.

Civil Rights programs help maximize the Coast Guard’s overall mission effectiveness by fostering a discrimination free environment through recognition of members’ accomplishments and contributions to civil rights, equal opportunity, minority communities, and Partnership in Education (PIE) programs. Learn more about the Coast Guard’s Civil Rights vision, mission, awards programs and CG PIE at: https://www.uscg.mil/Resources/Civil-Rights/.

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