A1C Perez adds positivity, perspective

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month takes place every year in May and showcases the service and sacrifice of generations of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians of AAPIs throughout U.S. military history.

This year the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, in partnership with the Federal Asian Pacific American Council, set the theme as, “advancing leaders through purpose-driven service,” by representing, evolving and making other leaders.

Airman 1st Class Alysha Perez, 325th Comptroller Squadron financial operations technician, fit this year’s theme perfectly to highlight for the observance.

“I am more than glad that this month has been an opportunity to recognize AAPI heritage contributions to…growth and development,” said Perez, who hopes to gain her U.S. citizenship by serving in the military.

Perez, and her parents have been living in the U.S. for approximately five years. She is considered a first generation immigrant because both she and her parents were born in the Philippines.

“As a Filipino and part of the Asian community, we call the U.S. the ‘land of opportunity’ and we take advantage of the opportunities that the U.S. has to offer,” said Perez.

According to the Defense Management Operations Center, more than 5% of enlisted service members identify as AAPIs and 7% of officers.

“Being in the service for just over a year now, I have seen equality throughout the military which has affected my work performance in a positive way and also improves my ability to serve this country,” Perez said.
“Just having the opportunity to be in the military and having an AAPI heritage gives me an opportunity to prove what I can contribute.”

Perez said that she is able to highlight her diversity and her heritage in her work center, which adds positivity and a different perspective to the team.
Perez said she is very warm and hospitable.

“I carry this in my professional life as well,” said Perez. “It is a good trait I can literally apply to every aspect of my life and that gives me positive feedback. I find myself very approachable.” 

Perez’s leadership couldn’t agree more. 

“She is an Airman that has a great attitude and a willingness to learn,” said Senior Master Sgt. Carlos Cintron, 325th CPTS superintendent. “She wants to help and be a part of the team.”

Cintron said even though Perez is new to the team, he sees potential in her leadership skills because she performs beyond her rank and takes the time to train those junior to her.

“She doesn’t do it for the recognition,” said Cintron. “She loves to help people. There is no better place for her to be.”

Perez said she did not have to overcome a language barrier when beginning her career which sometimes can be a challenge for some service members of different nationalities.

“In the Philippines, we are taught English in school because it is mostly what we use in classes and we use it very often in our everyday life,” said Perez. “In fact, some Filipino’s first language is English.”

Perez used her personable attitude and her English skills to best help the wing while also making a name for herself for all the right reasons. 

“I would describe Amn Perez as an Airman who does the best she can in everything,” said Lt. Col. David Calderon, 325th CPTS commander. “From singing the National Anthem at events to helping with ceremonies you can see that she truly cares about what she’s doing.”

The biggest challenge for Perez was navigating stereotypes or over-generalizations. Instead of being bothered by it, she learned to see it in a positive way and use that to support the mission at Tyndall. 

“Every time I would get this stereotype [about speaking English so well] I would just take it as a compliment,” she said. “I actually have never thought of it as negative thing.”

In recent years there has been a shift to change military culture to highlight, appreciate and successfully utilize members’ differences in the field, down range and at home stations.

“This is America’s way of showing open-hearted acceptance and appreciating AAPI’s heritage and contribution to the country,” said Perez. “It shows everyone has the ability to contribute to the nation.”