Out of tens of thousands of TSA officers across the country, Chelsea Scott earned the prestigious title of 2022 Transportation Security Officer (TSO) of the Year.
Scott, who was honored at last week’s annual TSA Honorary Awards Ceremony in Arlington, Virginia, joined the agency just a year-and-a-half ago, but it didn’t take her long to put a major imprint on TSA’s mission at Denver International Airport (DEN).
“I was in a bit of shock,” said Scott after learning she won the award. “It is such an honor to be chosen out of so many nominees. It gives me a great feeling of humbleness. I feel blessed!”
After graduating from the TSA (Training) Academy with top honors and becoming a TSO in late 2021, Scott quickly earned the respect of her peers and senior leadership. She volunteered to serve as a passenger support specialist (PSS) and is the primary collateral duty safety officer and alternate environmental management coordinator for DEN and its 13 spoke airports.
“Chelsea is a very motivated officer,” Supervisory TSA Officer Robert Gorrell declared. “She smiles and is very pleasant with peers and the traveling public. Truly, her PSS passengers feel the same way.”
Scott said TSA quickly opened her mind through numerous opportunities.
“I could not wait to start applying for other duties and responsibilities to expand my knowledge base within the agency,” Scott recalled. “Initially, I thought TSA would be just a job; however, I quickly learned I wanted to make it my career. I feel the impact I have on TSA is the ability to lead and make change, to set examples for new hires and demonstrate a positive mental attitude.”
TSA DEN leadership and her peers call Scott a team player, which seems to come easily for the young TSO who has a strong drive to protect the nation’s traveling public and carry out the agency’s mission.
“I hold myself to a high standard of productivity by setting daily and weekly goals,” she described. “When I come in to work, I shift from a four-cylinder engine to a V-8 Hemi!”
While serving as acting infield manager (a job title at the TSA checkpoint specific to DEN), Scott realized DEN had a heavy load of TSA PreCheck® passengers. Keeping a close watch on the queue, she suggested a switch at her checkpoint from three standard/four PreCheck lanes to one standard/six PreCheck lanes. Leadership approved her recommendation, and Scott was able to make a flawless transition without any interruption to security operations.
As alternate environmental management coordinator, Scott updated the hazardous chemicals list for DEN and provided technical assistance to all of Colorado’s spoke airports.
“Knowing that my leadership has trust and confidence in my abilities and tasks me with the opportunities to lead without being in a leadership role is inspiring,” she said. “My natural baseline is to always learn something new, stay engaged and keep moving forward.”
Don’t rule her out for a leadership role in the near future. With her keen interest in so many different roles in the agency, she plans to keep her options open and “not block any blessings.”
“When you look at the bigger picture, it is important to know the pieces that bring the mission together, which helps provide perspective,” Scott noted. “The TSO is the heartbeat of the screening operation. The TSO is the first line of defense to stop threats and the stepping stone to the bigger operation. We all have to start somewhere!”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs