MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
"The men and women serving in the U.S. Air Force are representative of the diversity of our nation,” said Chief Master Sgt. James Cody, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. “We value this diversity and it's one of our greatest strengths; our Airmen come together to produce an incredible team that can accomplish any mission and overcome any challenge. The uniqueness of these Airmen, and the ability to leverage this uniqueness over time, will ensure we remain the world's greatest Air Force."
Diversity is around every corner in the U.S. Air Force. Senior Airman Takiis Thompson, a financial services technician assigned to the 6th Comptroller Squadron, is one of many to be added to the melting pot here at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
In 2008, Thompson left her home in Jamaica for Atlanta, Georgia after living there for 17 years.
“I lived on both sides of Jamaica and they are extremely different,” said Thompson. “I lived in the country with my dad and lived in Kingston with my mom, which is more modern.”
In the country, Thompson often visited her grandmother’s farm and helped care for the animals, as well as catch dinner in the river behind the house. Despite having electricity, her grandmother preferred to rely on natural light and lanterns to operate her farm.
“My cousins and I would catch shrimp and fish and take it back to the house to cook it,” said Thompson. “We also ate a lot of ox tails, curry goat and curry chicken.”
After working at Guantanamo Bay and returning to Jamaica, Thompson’s mother decided they would move to the U.S.
“I had to give away a lot of my things to my friends before we moved,” said Thompson. “I came to the U.S. with three suitcases and that’s it.”
Naturally, moving to a different country didn’t come without its struggles.
The educational system in Jamaica is very different from the U.S. As a result, Thompson had to re-complete her junior and senior years since most of her credits were not transferrable.
Additionally, she faced a language barrier when trying to communicate with the people around her. This created frustration, causing Thompson to shy away from talking to anyone for the first year.
“I couldn’t understand my classmates and they couldn’t understand me,” said Thompson. “I didn’t start to talk to people until I met my best friend and she taught me English.”
Following high school, Thompson completed two years of college before tuition costs became too much to pay for without applying for student loans. It was then she began considering the Air Force.
“I was very adamant about not having student loans,” said Thompson. “I was in Air Force ROTC in high school and enjoyed the Air Force, so I decided to join in 2012.”
Since enlisting, Thompson has completed her Community College of the Air Force degree in Financial Management, and is pursuing a bachelor’s in Psychology.
As the lead defense travel administrator, Thompson works with the Defense Travel System and approves vouchers as they are received. She also assists other sections as needed and trains new Airmen when they arrive at MacDill AFB
“I enjoy my job and the world of finance,” said Thompson. “I like working with numbers and learning the different processes.”
In April 2017, Thompson is scheduled to complete a permanent change of station to Istanbul, Turkey.
“I’m ready to move on, meet new people and do something different other than customer service,” said Thompson. “I would like to go to budget section and broaden my horizons in finance.”