Cynthia Cordero is a 2016 alumna of Saint Leo University. She earned a bachelor's in criminal justice degree online while continuing to serve as an active-duty member of the U.S. Navy.

Cordero was recently honored with an award for the volunteer work and community service she has done for children with disabilities. We recently caught up with her to learn a little more about how she received this award and what some of her passions are.

Q: What is your nickname?

A: "Cyn"

Q: How old are you?

A: "33"

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: "Aguada, Puerto Rico"

Q: Where do you currently reside?

A: "Virginia Beach, Va."

Q: Are you married?

A: "Yes, I am married to Laure'n McNulty"

Q: What is your rank in the U.S. Navy?

A: "Petty officer first class"

Q: What inspired you to enlist in the Navy?

A: "I wanted to travel and do something for my country. I was the first one in my family to serve in the military, and I'm pretty proud of that."

Q: When did you enlist in the Navy?

A: "Feb. 22, 2005"

Q: What has your military experience been like?

A: "I've served three deployments – one in Bahrain, one in Portugal and one in Italy. Bahrain was definitely the most interesting because of everything going on in the Middle East But I have definitely enjoyed visiting several different countries and seeing the different cultures."

Q: What have your roles entailed?

A: "I'm a personnel officer, so I handle finances, travel, and administration. It's basically like a human resources role. I work with both Navy sailors and civilians."

Q: How did you wind up enrolling with Saint Leo University?

A: "I did one year of college in Puerto Rico, but I wanted to finish my degree. A lot of my friends had gone to Saint Leo and told me how good of a school it is."

Q: What was your major?

A: Criminal justice

Q: Which classes stood out to you in the curriculum?

A: "The corrections and forensics classes were definitely my favorites."

Q: When did you attend Saint Leo University?

A: "I started in 2012 and finished my bachelor's degree in 2016."

Q: What was your overall Saint Leo experience like?

A: "The program was very flexible and they were very accommodating to my schedule."

Q: What advice do you have for an active-duty military member who wants to pursue a college degree while still enlisted?

A: "Take it one step at a time. Don't try to do everything at once when it comes to your classes and assignments. And don't procrastinate and leave everything to be done at the last minute."

Q: Last year, you were awarded the 2019 Samuel T. Northern Military Citizen of the Year award from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce for your volunteer work in the community. How were you considered for this award?

A: "My commanding officer put my name in for consideration. There were several Navy and Marine Corps members who were up for it, and I was chosen as the winner."

Q: Talk about the volunteer work you have done with children.

A: "I've worked with the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters and the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I'm a child life volunteer, so I go around to different rooms the kids are staying in. I play with the kids, teach them how to color and work on their social skills. Some of them are terminally ill or have autism or another disability. These kids could be anywhere from infants to age 19."

Q: Talk about the nonprofit you are in the process of setting up.

A: "I am starting Cyn's Vision, which is a nonprofit under which I have created some children's books. These are coloring and activity books for children with special needs. They are called 'Don't Let a Disability Disable You.'"

Q: What inspired you to do this kind of community service work?

A: "I have a disability myself, so I wanted to give an outlet to kids with disabilities to make sure they know they can do what they want in spite of their disability. You can get these books on and you can follow the organization on Facebook and Instagram."

Q: What are your career goals?

A: "Career-wise, I would like to make chief in the Navy. Then I'd like to be able to fully build up this nonprofit organization."