NORFOLK (NNS) -- Her face was full of excitement and her eyes swelled up with tears when her name was announced. Her journey has been one of overcoming challenges but that has not slowed her a bit.
PR1 Stephanie Maydak will now move on to compete for the U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) Shore Sailor of the Year award.
Born and raised in Amarillo, Texas, Maydak enlisted in the United States Navy as an undesignated seaman. Within a year she made the rate of Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class and served her initial commitment. At the conclusion of those four years Maydak had to make a tough decision.
"I was a single parent at the time, so I made the decision to leave the military," said Maydak.
During civilian life, Maydak met Darren Maydak, a Sailor, and now a Chief Engineman (ENC). Soon after they were married. Maydak decided to return to service stating that it was her love for the Navy and the camaraderie of her fellow Sailors that influenced her decision. This time Maydak re-enlisted as an Aircrew Survival Equipmentman.
"I have watched my wife go from junior ranks to senior ranks with nothing short of perfection," said ENC Maydak. "My wife not only inspires everyone she works with, but she also inspires me."
Now with almost 17 years in the Navy, Maydak is working at Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic (CNAL) at the Aviation Life Support System Desk (ALSS) delivering equipment to the fleet and reviewing technical directives for the east and west coast.
"She is an outstanding first class filling a billet of a Chief Petty Officer," said Senior Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Jay La Porte, Maydak' s immediate supervisor. "This job has a whole lot of responsibility and she is doing a great job."
In addition to her regular duties, she is involved with various command collateral duties. She served as the president for the command's Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program, assists the training department, b logging Sailor's accountability of training into Fleet Temps and manages Situation Reports for the command.
"I just try to be me," said Maydak. "The Navy is always taking care of me, so I am always taking care of the Navy."
Outside of the Navy, Maydak participates in various volunteer opportunities such as taking on the role of troop leader for the Girl Scouts of America. She is also an active member of the "We Promise Foundation." She stated that both programs have had a very positive impact on her own daughters and takes joy in giving back.
"My daughter was a Wish Child," said Maydak. "So we wanted to pay forward the experience that we got."
The "We Promise Foundation" is dedicated to making dreams come true for children who struggle with severe illness or tremendous hardship.
Despite the family's hardship and with the support of her command and outside organizations Maydak was able to continue to grow as a leader.
"PR1 Maydak is the key to this great command," said CMDCM Robert Florentino CNAL command master chief. "She gets the mission done, building leaders in the process. She is recognized as a leader that refuses to be over tasked. Despite a life changing event, she remained focused while continuing to inspire her Sailors to unprecedented success. Her mentorship, leadership and vision is what our Navy needs at the Chief Petty Officer level."
Beginning March 2, 2014 Maydak will compete at the next level. A total of 10 Sailors will be participating for the USFF SOY award, which will include five Sailors on sea duty and five Sailors on shore duty. The Sailors will participate in a week of events in which two will be recognized as fleet's best. The winner will be announced at the Sailor of the Year Announcement Luncheon Ceremony at Vista Point on the March 6, 2014.
For more news from Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, visit www.navy.mil/local/comnavairlant/.