Corporal Maya Liss, a 24-year-old new immigrant from Los Angeles, received the IDF Award of Excellence this week.

The new olah (a person who ascends or makes “aliya” to Israel in Hebrew) served as a coordinator for new immigrants in the IDF’s Meitav unit, which handles the placement of recruits and discharge of soldiers.

She was given the award by Major General Orna Barbivay, the IDF’s head of manpower, for her outstanding service to Israel.

Liss made aliya to Israel in December 2010 with Nefesh B’Nefesh (Hebrew for soul by soul), a group that aims to ease the immigration hurdles of people who move to Israel. Despite being told that she was too old to serve in the army, Maya, then 23, was persistent and eventually succeeded in joining the IDF shortly after her arrival.

“I had decided to dedicate my life to advocating for Israel and the Jewish people,” explained Liss. “I felt that to be the best advocate I had to be an Israeli, and what better way to start my life as an Israeli than to serve in the IDF?”

She said she was grateful for the assistance she received from the IDF and Nefesh B’Nefesh and that her service was, in turn, a way to help other immigrants who want to serve their country too.

The IDF Excellence Award is given to proactive soldiers who excel in their duties and fields. On average, some 40 are awarded by each unit’s (or directorate’s) commander each year, according to the IDF.