Jacqueline Rocha, a 23-year-old OOIDA member from Acworth, Ga., has been a truck driver for only a couple of years. However, that hasn’t prevented her from making an impact.
Pilot Flying J announced on Wednesday, Feb. 1, that Rocha was the grand winner of the company’s third annual Road Warrior campaign, which aims to honor “heroes on the road who go the extra mile to get the job done right.”
Rocha was recognized as an advocate for the industry. According to a news release from Pilot Flying J, she has encouraged millennials and females to consider careers in trucking.
“Rocha strives to learn from the veterans on the road, while simultaneously helping those new to the industry excel,” the release said. “As she continues her career, Rocha hopes to start a nonprofit organization that funds the costs associated with a commercial driver’s license school, particularly aimed at recruiting young women to the industry.”
She represents the first female winner of the Road Warrior contest. Rocha will receive $10,000 as part of the award.
Rocha, who currently works as a long-haul driver for a small fleet, said the money will come in handy as she’s in the process of buying her first truck.
However, she also promised to use some of the money to give back to the industry.
“The money came at a perfect time,” Rocha said. “But I’m also going to donate part of it to the St. Christopher Truckers Fund and some to Women In Trucking. I’ve got to give some of it back to help other truckers.”
Kevin Mailand, of Lawrence, Kan., was named the second-place winner, and Charles Johnson, of Dubuque, Iowa, took third. Mailand, who will receive $5,000, is a second-generation trucker with more than 2 million safe miles. Johnson, who earned $2,500, has been a professional driver for 43 years.
“We are always so inspired by the passion and determination of professional drivers,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “All three winners, and so many of their fellow drivers, are excellent representations of the professional driver community, and we are thrilled to recognize them with this Road Warrior honor.”
Rocha gave much of the credit for her award to the veteran truckers who helped teach her the ropes.
“More than anything, I’m incredibly humbled to join a great group of past Road Warrior winners,” Rocha said. “I’ve met countless hard-working professional drivers over the course of my time behind the wheel, many of whom inspire me daily with their passion for this amazing industry. This award wouldn’t be possible without the mentors who came before me to help shape my career.”
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