“In our personal and professional lives, we are constantly faced with one adversity after another, most of which we have no control over. But the four things we have complete control over are how we react, how we adapt, how we breathe, and how we act.”
– Dallas Diamond Page
Life throws curve balls at us daily, and how we respond and carry on is the essence of resilience. For members of the military, resilience is essential for their physical, mental and emotional well-being, as well as for recovering from difficult situations. The one who knows this very well is Seaman Darren Cordoviz.
Seaman Cordoviz recently achieved the rank of Mass Communication Specialist, which was his dream from a young age. Sailors entering the Navy as an undesignated seaman usually have one year to be assigned to a rate. Cordoviz faced many obstacles 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, Philippines, and lived there until 2016 when his family moved to the United States to help care for his elderly grandmother and complete high school. There, Cordoviz developed his multimedia skills, and his passion for multimedia and communication was born when he was six years old.
“I was really into pop culture and movies growing up,” Cordoviz said. “I loved watching movies, designing games, and pretty much anything in the creative field. As a kid, I was nosy, which led me to learn about computers and a lot of creative software. I had a first edition of Photoshop, and it started out as a hobby, I also did a lot of photography with my dad’s old Nikon, which still used film, and I eventually started using my phone.
In high school, he volunteered for the newspaper, created posters for different events, developed graphics for his teachers, and ended up enrolling in a 3D modeling and animation course.
“I had no idea what the relationship between taking the 3D animation course had to do with what I wanted to do,” Cordoviz said, “but it gave me a great grounding for everything I know now.”
During Cordoviz’s freshman year in high school, he considered possible paths for his future, including attending a community college for media studies. But he still didn’t know which path to choose until, by a twist of fate, he was introduced to his mother’s classmate in the Philippines.
“My mom’s classmate had left the Philippines, joined the navy, and was now a recruiter,” Cordoviz said. “He told me that it would be better if I joined the army and told me about the educational possibilities. What really sold me was the travels and the idea of becoming an MC. The only problem was that you had to be a [U.S.] citizen.”
At sixteen, Cordoviz decided to join the Navy as an undesignated sailor in hopes of attaining the MC rate after obtaining citizenship. Two months out of high school, he was on his way to Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois for recruit training.
After graduating from recruit training and specialty school, he was assigned to USS John S. McCain (DDG-56). While at McCain, he became a deckhand, where he handled ship maintenance, navigation and day-to-day operations.
From McCain, he arrived aboard Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, where he worked at the Visitor Control Center. Yet, to achieve his goal of becoming an MC, he needed American citizenship.
“Citizenship was never my original goal,” Cordoviz said, “but it was necessary to become an MC, so I committed to it. Basically, my time in the military was coming to an end, and I didn’t want to leave without trying to achieve my goal of becoming an MC.”
Cordoviz’s path to citizenship has not been easy, especially amid the pandemic.
“I started the process at the height of COVID, and it took time,” Cordoviz said. “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 achieve my goal.”
During his time working at the Visitor Control Center, he managed to become an essential member of the team. Chief Weapons Master Carlos Hernandes, Chief Petty Officer of the Visitor Control Center, praised Cordoviz for his work ethic.
“He had an immediate positive impact in the workplace,” Hernandez said. “During the short time on board he received several positive Interactive Customer Rating (ICE) feedback for customer service. He focused on what he wanted and in no time left on his clock became a US citizen, resumed his Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and achieved his desired rate. With the critical odds against him, he was able to achieve his goals through hard work and excellent efforts. serves as a role model and inspiration, teaching us that hard work pays off. During his time aboard the Visitor Control Center, he issued over 144,000 passes, edited over 20,000 profiles of the defense biometric identification system (DBIDS) and easily trained its replacement ten times over. It’s a small package with a huge presence. I can’t wait to see where its future takes it.
Over time at VCC, he has become a reliable team member and a leader among his peers.
“Cordoviz was like a mentor to me when I first came to VCC and I feel like I can say that on behalf of everyone who works with him here,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Ashley Schwieterman. “He has played a huge role in training all new limited duty sailors on base security, making sure everyone is knowledgeable on facility guest access forms, forms house guest and 3-day vehicle passes. The VCC works well today thanks to the participation and dedication of Cordoviz. He is definitely going to go far in his career in the Navy and we are all looking forward to seeing what he accomplishes as an MC.
His time at the Control Center gave him time to go through the citizenship process and supported him in his quest to become an MC.
“I was really grateful for the flexibility in my leadership and support for my efforts,” Cordoviz said. “They even allowed me to get hands-on training with CFAY’s MCs.”
Once naturalized, he approached his career adviser, who then contacted MC1 Kaleb Sarten, production manager in CFAY’s public affairs office.
“The career counselor contacted me and let me know there was a Marine interested in hitting MC,” Sarten said. “I told him to send it, and I would help him out and answer any questions he had. We found he needed a portfolio, so I gave him some homework to help him achieve his goals. The rest was him.
Sarten along with the rest of the AP office, took Cordoviz under his wing and hosted the formation. He soon began producing material that helped him build his portfolio.
“I was able to go out and document events, participate in video projects, and use what I learned with graphics,” Cordoviz said. “What really caught the eye was the graphic I made for Pride Month. A lot of people complimented me on it.”
As he continued to balance his work at the VCC and the CFAY public affairs office, he reached out to MC1 Jeanette Mullinax.
“We originally met in Japan at the PACT Rodeo when I came to Japan,” Mullinax said. “He later asked for help in the process and sent me his portfolio. After reviewing it, I was blown away and immediately forwarded it through the proper channels. After reviewing it , they determined that he was someone we really needed in the MC community.”
Mullinax routed it, which ultimately led to Cordoviz being recommended to the MC community. After a long process and many setbacks, Cordoviz was finally able to secure his goal. Her journey is an inspiration to many who have the same hopes and dreams of finding a community that matches the same passions.
“Becoming an MC is what excites me and I love doing it,” Cordoviz said. “As an MC you can tell other people’s stories, there is no other job like this.”