Sailor Striking The Rate
by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Garrett Cole
October 4, 2022
"In our personal and professional lives, we are constantly hit with one adversity after the other, most of which we have no control over. But the four things we have total control over is ... how we react, how we adapt, how we breathe; and, how we take action." Diamond Dallas Page
Life throws us curve balls on a daily basis, and how we react and press on is the essence of resiliency. For military members, resiliency is indispensable towards one’s well-being physically, mentally, and emotionally along with recovery from adverse situations.
One who knows this quite well is Seaman Darren Cordoviz.
Seaman Cordoviz recently struck the rate of Mass Communication Specialist, which was his dream from an early age. Sailors who enter the Navy as undesignated Seaman typically have one year to be assigned to a rate.
September 21, 2022 - Seaman Darren Cordoviz creates a graphic honoring the new chief petty officer selects onboard Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY). Cordoviz recently struck the rate of Mass Communication Specialist and is now assigned to the CFAY Public Affairs Office. For 75 years, CFAY has provided, maintained, and operated base facilities and services in support of the U.S. 7th fleet's forward deployed naval forces, tenant commands, and thousands of military and civilian personnel and their families. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Garrett Cole.)
Cordoviz faced many hurdles and setbacks in the process, which included a path to citizenship and the effects of the pandemic.
Darren Cordoviz was born in San Fernando, Pampanga, in the Philippines, and lived there until 2016, when his family moved to the United States to help care for his elderly grandmother and to finish high school. There Cordoviz further developed his skills in multimedia, and his passion for multimedia and communication originated when he was six years old.
"I was really into pop culture and film growing up," said Cordoviz. "I enjoyed watching movies, game design, and pretty much everything related to the creative field. As a kid, I was nosey, which led me to dabble in computers and a lot of creative software. I had an early edition of Photoshop, and initially, it was a hobby. I also did a lot of photography with my dad's old Nikon, which still used film, and I eventually progressed to using my phone."
In high school, he volunteered for the newspaper, created posters for different events, developed graphics for his teachers, and eventually enrolled in a 3D modeling and animation course.
"I had no idea how taking the 3D animation course would relate to what I wanted to do," said Cordoviz, "but it gave me a great foundation for everything I know now."
During Cordoviz’s junior year in high school, he considered the possible paths for his future to include attending community college for media studies. But he was still unsure which path to choose until, in a twist of fate, he was introduced to his mother’s classmate from the Philippines.
"My mother's classmate had left the Philippines, joined the Navy, and was now a recruiter," said Cordoviz. "He told me it would be better if I joined the military and talked to me about the educational opportunities. What really sold me was traveling and the idea of becoming an MC. The only problem was that you had to be a [U.S.] citizen.”
At sixteen years old, Cordoviz decided to join the Navy as an undesignated Sailor in hopes of striking the MC rate after obtaining citizenship. Two months out of high school, he was on his way to the Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois for recruit training.
After graduating from both recruit training and his specialty school, he was assigned to the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56). While on McCain, he became a deck seaman, where he provided ship maintenance, navigation, and day-to-day operations.
From McCain, he arrived onboard Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, where he worked at the Visitor Control Center. Still, in order to achieve his goal of becoming an MC, he needed U.S. citizenship.
“Citizenship was never my initial goal,” said Cordoviz, “but it was required to become an MC, so I committed to getting it done. Basically, my time in the military was drawing to a close, and I didn't want to leave without trying to reach my goal of becoming an MC."
Cordoviz's path to citizenship wasn't easy, especially in the midst of the pandemic.
"I started the process in the height of COVID, and it took a while," said Cordoviz. "I had to coordinate with the office here and in Guam. I also had to physically mail my documents, which took quite a bit of time. But I just stayed motivated to accomplish my goal."
During his time working at the Visitor Control Center, he managed to become a vital member of the team. Chief Master-at-Arms Carlos Hernandes, Visitor Control Center lead petty officer, praised Cordoviz on his work ethic.
"He was an immediate positive impact in the workplace,” said Hernandez. “In the short time onboard, he has received multiple positive Interactive Customer Evaluation (ICE) comments for customer service. He zeroed in on what he wanted and, with no time left on his clock became a U.S. citizen, retook his Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), and struck his desired rate. With the odds critically stacked against him, he was able to achieve his goals through hard work and excellent effort. His story serves as a model and inspiration, teaching us that hard work does pay off. During his time on board with the Visitor Control Center, he issued over 144,000 passes, edited over 20,000 Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS) profiles, and easily trained his replacement ten times over. He is a small package with an enormous presence. I cannot wait to see where his future will take him."
Over the course of time at the VCC he became a dependable team member and leader amongst his peers.
“Cordoviz was like a mentor for me when I first arrived at the VCC and I feel like I can say that on behalf of everyone that works with him here,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Ashley Schwieterman. “He has played a huge role in training all the new limited duty sailors on the security of the base, making sure everyone is knowledgeable on Installation Guest Access forms, House Guest forms, and 3-day vehicle passes. The VCC runs smoothly today because of the participation and dedication from Cordoviz. He’s definitely going to go far in his Navy career and we are all looking forward to seeing what he accomplishes as an MC.”
His time at the control center allowed him the time to go through the citizenship process and supported him in his quest to become an MC.
"I was really grateful for my leadership's flexibility and support for my efforts," said Cordoviz. "They even allowed me the opportunity to get hands-on training with the MC's at CFAY."
Once he obtained his citizenship, he reached out to his career advisor who then contacted MC1 Kaleb Sarten, production manager for the CFAY Public Affairs office.
"The career advisor reached out to me and let me know that there was a sailor interested in striking MC,” said Sarten. “I told her to send him over, and I would help him and answer any questions he might have. We found out that he needed a portfolio, so I gave him some assignments to help him hit the marks. The rest was all him."
Sarten along with the rest of the PA office, took Cordoviz under their wing and he welcomed the training. He quickly began producing material that helped build his portfolio.
"I was able to go out and document events, assist on video projects, and use what I learned with graphics," said Cordoviz. "What really got attention was the graphic I made for Pride month. A lot of people complimented me on that."
As he continued to balance working at the VCC and the CFAY Public Affairs office, he reached out to MC1 Jeanette Mullinax.
"Initially, we met in Japan at the PACT Rodeo when I came to Japan," said Mullinax. "He later reached out for assistance in the process and sent me his portfolio. After looking it over, I was blown away and immediately passed it up through the proper channels. After it was evaluated, they determined that it was someone we definitely needed in the MC community."
Mullinax routed it through, ultimately leading to Cordoviz being recommended to the MC community. After a long process and many set-backs, Cordoviz was finally able to obtain his goal. His journey is one to inspire many who have the same hopes and dreams of finding a community that fits the same passions.
"Becoming an MC is what I'm passionate about and I love doing it," said Cordoviz. "As an MC you get to tell other people's stories, there's no other job like it."
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