CHERRY POINT  A Fleet Readiness Center East employee earned Navy recognition as a rising star in the equal employment opportunity field.

VirLynda Cantoral, equal employment opportunity specialist at FRC East, recently received the Department of the Navy Human Resources and Equal Employment Opportunity Community Award for Excellence in the Rising Star (Specialist) Category. More than 75 nominees from across the Navy competed in nine categories for this prestigious award.

Ms. Cantoral said she was completely surprised to hear she had been selected for the award.

“It was a shock, but it felt really good. It felt nice to be recognized for things you’ve accomplished,” Ms. Cantoral said. “Sometimes you’re not sure that people notice how hard you’re working, so it was fulfilling to receive that recognition.”

FRC East Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Nieto said Ms. Cantoral’s enthusiasm and hard work have been key to reinvigorating the EEO program at FRC East.

“Ms. Cantoral’s can-do attitude and infectious personality allow her represent the command positively and improve the performance of the EEO program,” Capt. Nieto said. “She is a valuable asset to FRCE and truly deserves this recognition.”

Walter Perry, acting deputy EEO officer for FRC East, nominated Ms. Cantoral for the award. He said the award is designed to honor employees who had made a significant difference in their EEO programs, and Ms. Cantoral came immediately to mind.

“We were looking for someone who is making an impact in an area that is very regulatory driven with processes and timelines. VirLynda is someone who gets that right,” Mr. Perry said.

Ms. Cantoral’s efforts over the years led to the depot moving from “red” and “amber” timelines in several EEO cases, meaning they were not being processed in a timely fashion, to being green in 2020.

“That is a tremendous accomplishment. That’s impact,” Mr. Perry said.

According to Mr. Perry’s nomination, when Ms. Cantoral joined the office in 2016, timely processing of EEO cases was at 50% and reasonable accommodation cases were at 35%. Now, the office has a 100% on-time rate for EEO cases and 85% for reasonable accommodations, in spite of a staffing shortage.

In her four years with the program, Ms. Cantoral has performed every function in the EEO office, including managing complaints, coordinating reasonable accommodations and administering the special emphasis program. She has also participated actively with FRC East’s diversity teams and spoken publicly at community events on behalf of the command. She said her job allows her to have a positive impact on her coworkers, often at stressful times in their lives.

“When you finally get that thank you after you’ve worked all day assisting an employee through the complaint process, it does make you go home at the end of the day and say, ‘That was worth my work today,’” Ms. Cantoral said. “Whenever we can host a special emphasis event, and people are smiling and feeling empowered and inspired, that reenergizes me. I’m like, ‘This is what I’m here for – that’s what I want to do.’ I want to help everyone.”

Ms. Cantoral will receive an award statuette when it arrives at FRC East, in a ceremony to be scheduled later. Mr. Perry said he predicts the award is a sign of good things to come in Ms. Cantoral’s future. 

“Excellence is a journey, not a destination,” he said. “Excellence is built each and every day as you build trust and credibility with those around us – fellow employees, supervisors, teammates -- and VirLynda has done just that.” 

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