Friday, August 15, 2014

‘I’m a U.S. citizen and a U.S.’

By Senior Airman Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs 

Senior Airman Regina Ahiable, a 19th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, came to the United States with a plan: leave the country and family whom she loved and embark on an opportunity that could afford her the chance to make a huge difference in her community.

Ahiable was born and raised in the west African nation of Ghana. Life there was good, she said. She had a normal upbringing and was well-educated. She graduated from college with an agriculture engineer degree.

Seeking better education opportunities, Ahiable decided the next chapter of her life would need to be in America. Ahiable was selected by the luck of the draw in the Diversity Visa Lottery, which is a U.S. congressionally-mandated lottery program for receiving a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, and she arrived in America February 2010. 

Leaving her parents, six sisters and one brother was not easy, said Ahiable. This was not a short vacation or four-year college trip. Ahiable left her family without a notion of when she’d return. And though her vision for the future of her Ghanaian community was vibrant, the tough goodbye to her family made the first step a little hard. 

“I cried the whole flight here,” she said. “I missed my family terribly. I still do, but it does get better.”

With her priorities in place, Ahiable hit the American soil running. Fifteen months after residing in America, she was on her way to San Antonio, Texas, to transform herself into an Airman at Basic Military Training.

A year later, Ahiable became an American citizen and said that day was one of the best days of her life. 

“That day was a huge deal for me because there are so many Ghanaians who want to become American citizens,” she said. “It is a very difficult process. My family could not make it, but they were extremely proud of me and happy for me.”

As Ahiable’s concentration continued, her vision became clearer.

“For me, staying focused was not difficult,” she said. “I was 25 when I got here, and I had already been to college, so my mindset was already developed. Discipline is a way of life in Ghana. It is a huge part of our culture.”

Ahiable’s instilled discipline is manifested in her ability to accomplish her goals. 

First, she is a below-the-zone recipient, which is an honor given to top notch Airmen, promoting them to senior airmen ahead of their peers. Second, she recently made the rank of staff sergeant her first time taking the Weighted Airman Promotion System test. And now, she is one of 42 Air Force selectees for the 2014 Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program. Airmen selected for this program are assigned to an Air Force ROTC detachment while they attend school. 

Because Ahiable already earned her degree, she will be participating in an accelerated program, which means instead of the normal two-year program, hers will be 16 months.

Ahiable said she is very humbled by everything she’s accomplished so far but does not take any of the credit.

“I think about where I come from, and I know God has brought me this far,” she said.

Ahiable’s advice to Airmen who have goals is to be specific.

“Put specific goals on paper,” she said. “Never sell yourself short. If something is your passion, give it the best you can possibly give, and pray about it.”

Ahiable said she has pride when wearing the Air Force uniform as an American Airman.

“I can say I’m a U.S. citizen and a U.S. Airman… wow,” she said. “I am thankful.”

After her military career, Ahiable’s ultimate goal is to return to Ghana and help with her community’s health care. She wishes to provide obstetrician/gynecologist care to the women there for free.

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