Five Years to First Class 
PHILIPPINE SEA - Advancement is a goal for every Sailor. Moving up in rank means more pay, more responsibility and more respect. But as every Sailor knows, making rank isn’t always easy.  It takes hard work and determination, hours of study and a goal-oriented attitude. According to Navy statistics, becoming a first class petty officer takes an average of 11 years.

Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Aubrey Iral did it in less than five.

Born in Pasig City, Republic of Philippines, Iral joined the Navy at 19-years-old for better opportunities.

“My family really wanted to immigrate to the United States,” said Iral. “I worked a few different jobs that didn’t really help with my citizenship. My father suggested I join the military. At the time, he was working as a caretaker for a retired naval officer, and I thought, ‘Why not the Navy?’”

Iral came to Great Lakes with very little experience with the military or American culture in general

“I was so culture shocked at first,” she said.  “I had lived in the Philippines my whole life. No one in my family had ever been in the military either.  Most of my time in boot camp was spent trying to pick up a whole new culture.”

After completing A-school, Iral received orders to Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63), forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.  In 2013 Cowpens completed a hull-swapped with USS Antietam (CG 54), and Iral continued her career as a 7th fleet Sailor.

“EM1 is a hard worker and very focused,” said Ensign Burnell Clemmer, Antietam’s electrical officer. “She made it to where she is so fast because of her ceaseless dedication to getting the job done.”

Iral agrees that it was nothing but hard work that helped her get where she is today.

“For me what got me here was the drive to never fail,” said Iral. “My parents pushed me to succeed from a young age. I have a serious fear of failure, so I push myself to do my best all the time.”

But a well-rounded Sailor can’t be all work and no play, and Iral has made the most of her free time living in Japan.

“I love to travel, and the Navy helps provide me with opportunities to do that,” said Iral. “I like to go to Yokohama and Tokyo, and travel around the rest of Japan as much as I can. I’m also a big gamer. Growing up in the Philippines I didn’t have the chance to play a lot of video games, so I guess I’m making up for lost time.”

Iral is still debating her next step in life, and how the Navy fits into that, but wherever she goes, she says she’s ready to give it her all 100 percent of the time.

“If I get out, I really want to finish my degree in computer science,” she said. I love fixing computers and writing programs. I’d love to be a video game programmer.”

Antietam is on patrol with the George Washington Strike Group supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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