Like My Family: YPG Program Analyst proud to support Soldiers
YUMA — While some people can’t imagine working in the same place for their entire career, Mireya Balcazar wouldn’t wanted to have been any place other than Yuma Proving Ground for the past 39 years.
“I think I’m very patriotic. Even though I didn’t serve in the military, I’m doing my part for the soldier, and that makes me very proud,” said Balcazar, a program analyst in the Range Operations and Training Division (ROTD). “I have always said, if it is going to break, let it be here at YPG and not out in theater.”
Balcazar, who was pursuing a degree in business from Arizona Western College at the time, was hired at YPG as a clerk in the Plans and Services Division of the Engineering Department in June of 1984.
“I was excited. I knew this was the place I wanted to be,” Balcazar said. “Once I got the job, I had to switch to night school to finish my degree.”
She actually got her start at YPG during her senior year at Yuma High School as part of an on-the-job training program in which she worked three hours a day in the housing department. The civilian employees there even helped her put together her resume and fill out the paperwork she needed to apply for the job that she was eventually hired for.
Throughout her career, Balcazar has held various positions to include being an administrative assistant with the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System program, which was a tenant organization on base until 1990, and a range scheduler, where she spent many years.
It was as a range scheduler that Balcazar would eventually come under the direction of a new supervisor by the name of Tim Szymanski, who she said saw more potential in her than she did in herself.
“He started giving me extra responsibilities and pushing me to learn and do more, which I did,” Balcazar said. “He really helped me to be more confident in myself.”
Then, one year ago, she took on her current role as a program analyst, working under the direction Division Chief Omar Silva, who has credited her with improving productivity by taking on additional duties.
In her short time there, Balcazar has already completed major procurement efforts, established new workflows and processes, taken over the role of facility manager for ROTD and assisting with hand receipt duties.
She has also immersed herself in Power BI dashboards to track all division expenses and was instrumental in developing their SharePoint site.
“Her can-do attitude and results driven work ethic have set a high bar for colleagues,” Silva said. “Her willingness to take on new challenges and ability to execute them with excellence makes her an invaluable member of the team.”
Despite changing jobs Balcazar was able to remain in range operations, the division she has spent most of career in and has developed a deep fondness for.
“I love this group and have learned so much. The division is great because they are like my family,” Balcazar said. “I like that I’m interacting with more people and making new contacts. I’m also more involved in what is happening in the division.”
Now, with nearly four decades of experience to share, Balcazar has also assumed a mantle of mentorship and is helping her co-workers become successful by passing on the knowledge she has acquired.
“I want to give back so everybody can succeed, and be the best they can be,” Balcazar said. “When I finally do retire, I want to feel like I accomplished something.”
While there can be no doubt that Balcazar achieved a lot during her tenure at YPG, she also created some fond memories along the way, such as jumping with the Golden Knights twice and being part of a workforce that included her stepfather, Willie Hatcher.
“My stepfather had already been working here for several years by the time I started,” Balcazar said. “We hardly saw each other though. He worked in Mission Control for many years before retiring.”
She was also a member of the Spanish Heritage Committee for 30 years. The group got its start when several YPG committee members got the courage to learn folkloric dances and perform them at events.
“It was fun,” Balcazar said.