NORFOLK (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, commander, Carrier Strike Group 4 (CSG 4), announced the command's Sailor of the Year (SOY) and Junior Sailor of the Year (JSOY) during the command holiday party.
Whitesell named Personnel Specialist 1st Class Stephen Cooper, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, who grew up in Spring, Texas, CSG 4's SOY, and Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Magdalena Ramirez, a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, CSG-4's JSOY.
"Receiving this recognition is justification and validation for the work that I've done throughout the year," said Ramirez. "It goes to show that the work that [you] do is not about yourself, but about setting the bar for standards higher."
"This is a check in the box that shows I am progressing and doing what I need to do in order to succeed," said Cooper. "I would say that it also provides an example for junior Sailors to follow and show that if they want to get to a goal they have to do something."
Former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet established the SOY program in 1972 to recognize individual Sailors who best represent the Navy's ever-growing group of dedicated professional Sailors. Initially, the program only recognized Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors, but the SOY program soon expanded to include shore establishment and Navy Reserve Sailors. It is now open to all enlisted Sailors in pay grades E-4 to E-6 who served at their command during the previous calendar year.
Both Cooper and Ramirez were leaders in their departments.
Cooper is the CSG 4 personnel officer, command career counselor, sponsor coordinator, assistant educational services officer and event coordinator/treasurer for the First Class Petty Officer's Association.
Ramirez serves as the command volunteer coordinator. She also volunteers in the community through the First Tee, a youth development organization instilling leadership and sresponsibility through golf. Ramirez has also represented the US Navy in the World Military Golf Championships.
Cooper and Ramirez were first selected by their chains of command for 2017 Sailor of the Quarter (SOQ) and Junior Sailor of the Quarter (JSOQ) respectively.
"I nominated IT2 for SOQ because she stands out," said Chief Information Systems Technician Valinda Lewis. "She always goes above and beyond what is expected and doesn't cut corners."
"I nominated PS1 for SOQ because of the culmination of everything he has done for our Admin team," said Chief Yeoman Ashley Moran. "He bears a lot of weight on his shoulders as our personnel officer and his individual approach to each Sailor means there is always a line of Sailors outside his office waiting to address their career concerns with him."
They competed against CSG 4's other 2017 SOQs and JSOQs for SOY and JSOY honors. The competition culminated when Cooper and Ramirez both appeared before a board, comprised of CSG 4's Chiefs Mess, to answer questions about naval heritage, leadership and regulations.
"Both Cooper and Ramirez had exceptional deckplate leadership and institutional expertise. They are both known throughout the command for not only being able to get the job done, but for the quality of which they do so," said Master Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Robert Butler, who sat the boards. "These two Sailors both show leadership, not just within their departments but throughout the command. They have shown that they are willing to get outside of their bubble and aspire to inspire."
"As part of the board, their records spoke for themselves," said Master Chief Operations Specialist Bryan Adams, who sat the boards. "Being able to see their progression throughout their careers and throughout the year is what really made these Sailors stand out."
Cooper will move on to compete for the title of U.S. Fleet Forces Shore SOY.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Carrier Strike Group 4, visit www.navy.mil/local/csg4/.