TSgt. Sharry L. Barnshaw is one of the USAF's top enlisted airmen.

Tech. Sgt. Sharry L. Barnshaw has brought something to Dover Air Force Base it hasn’t seen in almost 40 years: a team member recognized as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Barnshaw was notified of the 2015 award in August and since then has been busy not only with her regular duties at the 436th Communications Squadron, but working with top enlisted Air Force managers, including Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright. Only about 800 airmen have earned the honor since it was initiated in 1956.

Dover’s only other OAY was Sgt. Kenneth A. Thompson, who was selected in 1976.

Each Outstanding Airman is recognized for their superior job performance, leadership, personal achievements and community involvement. Barnshaw was nominated for her work in helping to revamp the Dover AFB telephone system and as president of the base Junior NCO Association, which raised more than $9,000 and to which she donated more than 1,200 volunteer hours.

A selectee for promotion to master sergeant, she is in charge of telecommunications resource support on the base, and supervises 10 younger airmen.

“I love supervising,” she said. “It keeps me grounded, makes sure I’m continually improving myself as a supervisor, as a leader, as a mentor.

“They help me better myself,” Barnshaw added. “I have to mold myself to different people, different personalities. As long as I have that diversity in my office and I get that opportunity to supervise, it allows me to grow myself as a person, to be more adaptable, to be more considerate of other personalities and also to provide that more inclusive environment.”

Although she joined the Air Force as a way to further her education, Barnshaw continues to re-enlist because she enjoys the people, culture, environment and the discipline the military offers.

What does it mean now that you’re advising the senior leadership in the Air Force?

It’s an awesome experience simply because I now get to be the voice for the airmen who don’t have a voice on a day-to-day basis. It’s an honor for me because I get the opportunity to be that face for them.

What does it mean to serve in the Air Force today?

It’s no more just giving orders and the airmen comply.

I think the way we’re moving now is we’re learning to adapt, we’re teaching our noncommissioned officers and our senior noncommissioned officers to have interpersonal communications, to be more sensitive to different personalities. That way we can provide an all-inclusive environment, because if you stay the way that we were in the past, then our airmen are going to feel stifled, they’re going to feel like they have no voice. As long as they do that, they’re not going to perform.

How does a supervisor get an airman to do their best?

I think it’s figuring out what motivates that individual. Everyone is different, I’m learning that more now.

Most of my airmen are straight out of technical school and a lot of the generation is a lot different than when I came in. I think it’s figuring out what motivates each person and trying to use that to capitalize on their performance.