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Holloman Airman recounts her journey into the service

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Isaiah Pedrazzini
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

As a child, Nika Calliste grew up on the stories told in her classes about the 1983 American liberation of Grenada.

As a native of the tropical Caribbean island nation, the stories of the U.S. military liberating the island's citizens from a violent coup d'etat drove a deep appreciation of and desire to become an American citizen and serve in the military.

"When I learned about the history and sacrifices that the American forces had endured for the sake of our home, it encouraged me to join and be a part of something bigger than myself," said Calliste.

After graduating from primary school and receiving her associate degree in business, she emigrated to the United States and started her path to becoming an Airman.

"Life in Grenada, while enriching in many ways, presented limited opportunities for my personal and professional growth," she said. "From a young age, I harbored ambitions for more, which eventually led me to continue my studies in New York, complete my education and start a family."

As the years passed, she eventually found herself in a successful and promising career as a software engineer. However, the nature of her job began to detract from the care she wanted to provide her family, and began to re-evaluate her situation.

"The decision to choose the Air Force was motivated by a desire to provide a secure future for my family," she said.

Calliste was firmly committed to realizing her dream of joining the U.S. military. However, it was more complex than walking into a recruiting office and signing a contract because she was still a Grenadian citizen.

"To join the Air Force, you need to be a green card holder for 10 years, which presented many challenges and uncertainties," she said.

According to Calliste, after finally reaching the ten-year mark, it felt as if a barrier had been removed from her path. She immediately acted on the opportunity to realize her dream: serving in the United States military.

Upon completing Basic Military Training, her emotions ran high as she finally earned the title of Airman.

"The moment I finally got the privilege to wear this uniform, it brought tears to my eyes," said Calliste. "It felt unreal at the moment, and in my eyes, it was an accomplishment that few others experience."

Since then, she has made it her goal to strive for excellence while continuing to be grounded in the morals she'd been taught in her homeland.

"Growing up in Grenada and being raised by my grandparents, they instilled in me their values," she said. "Their lessons of modesty, learning from those around you while maintaining a humble mindset, keeps me at my best."

Calliste, now an airman first class in the 49th Contracting Squadron, consistently aims high to excel in her duties as a contracting specialist. She expresses her eternal thanks to the U.S. military for enabling her upbringing in Grenada by sharing her culture with the Airmen she’s proud to call her wingmen.

"Regardless of who you are, Calliste will always make an effort to make you feel included," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Margaret Ogbuozobe, 49th CONS specialist. "She often organizes luncheons featuring traditional Grenadian dishes and inviting new and existing team members."

Her aspirations underscore the importance of representation and mentorship in fostering an environment where all service members can thrive.

"In the heart of our career at the 49th CONS lies the commitment to meet every need, from essential commodities to critical services, and reflecting on the fundamental role of support within the military," she said. "As I continue to navigate through the service, I will strive to stay humble and serve as a role model within Holloman."