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Reserve Citizen Airman earns Air Force 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year award

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Staff Sgt. Caryn Frederick, 19th Space Operations Squadron, was recently named one of the Air Force 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year, representing as the only Reserve Citizen Airman among the winners.

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

Staff Sgt. Caryn Frederick, 19th Space Operations Squadron, was recently named one of the Air Force 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year, representing as the only Reserve Citizen Airman among the winners.

“It feels incredible to not only represent the Air Force Reserve, but also the 310th Space Wing and 19 SOPS,” said Frederick. “I recognize this is an opportunity to show the rest of the Air Force, and other branches of the Armed Forces, what Reservists are truly capable of and how big of an impact we have on the mission.”

Then Senior Airman Caryn Frederick, 19th Space Operations Squadron technician, is recognized as the 2018 12 Outstanding Airman of the Year Award, Airman category for the Air Force Reserve Command in St. Augustine, Florida, March 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Frederick says what motivates her to get out of bed in the morning is knowing what she does as a Reserve Citizen Airman matters.

“My mission is to be a GPS satellite systems operator. I’m also an orbital analyst and heavily involved as a modernization SME (subject matter expert),” said Frederick. “I may have a small piece of the pie in terms of mission responsibilities, but I recognize that if I didn’t do what I’m doing now, the mission would be negatively impacted.”

Senior Master Sgt. Edwin Medina-Diaz, 19 SOPS operations superintendent, says that Frederick has helped protect warfighters on a global scale by being creative and innovative.

“She has taken an engineered product from our civilian defense contractors, provided hundreds of hours of feedback in program review, technical order development and even graphic user interface so that our younger Airmen are able to operate our future multi-billion dollar, highly resilient ground system,” said Medina. “She is at least 10-15 years ahead of her time when it comes to innovation. Truly astonishing and we cannot stop bragging about her.”

Staff Sgt. Caryn Frederick and Senior Master Sgt. Edwin Medina-Diaz take a selfie with Lt. Col. Beth Stargardt, 19th Space Operations Squadron commander. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Outside of work, Frederick looks up to her dad as a mentor because of his dedication to achieving what he wanted out of life.

“He knew he wanted to be a reporter from the time he was a boy,” said Frederick. “He started throwing newspapers for the local Orlando Sentinel, then worked his way up to being a reporter for them and, eventually, the Associated Press. He taught me that if you set your mind on something and you work hard, you’ll get to where you’re meant to be in life.”

While she says she has many mentors in the Air Force, Frederick recognizes one in particular for his dedication to seeing his Airmen succeed both inside and outside the Air Force.

“Senior Master Sgt. Medina has taught me what it truly means to be a mentor and to lead others,” said Frederick. “He has taught me that absolutely nothing is impossible, no matter how many times you’ve heard otherwise. Most importantly, he hasn’t just told me what it means to be a leader; he has shown me what it means to be a leader.”

Medina says four qualities set Frederick apart from her peers – positive attitude, taking care of her people, influence on those around her and daily determination.

“[She’s] always smiling, enjoying the company of her unit, but most importantly, having fun while taking care of the mission,” said Medina. “She influences just about everyone. I have young Airmen asking me, ‘What do I have to do to be at Staff Sgt. Frederick’s level?’ No matter what she is tasked to complete, she is highly determined and laser focused on completing the job. Once she’s done, she goes around trying to help others.”

Frederick offers her own advice to Airmen looking to advance in their careers within the Reserve, while also encouraging them to pursue balance between work and home.

“Start by knowing your job and knowing it well. Communicate as much as possible about who you are and where you want to go in your career and in life, and your leadership will get you there,” said Frederick. “[But] no matter how high-speed you are, you can’t do everything yourself. Take care of yourself, at work and at home, and balance your life.”