Breaking barriers: MacDill Airmen continue to inspire others

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Determined. Confident. Fearless. Ambitious. Independent. These are just a few of the words used to describe the women around the Air Force and here at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

Throughout the month of March, to help celebrate Women’s History, women across MacDill continue to share personal trials, tribulations, and words of wisdom to empower women to continue breaking barriers and crossing into careers and roles that were historically deemed as male dominant.

 “Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter,” chuckled 1st Lt. Sarah Garvin, a vehicle management officer assigned to the 6th Logistics Readiness Squadron. “I used to walk around everywhere in a little firefighter suit and asked for everything related to firefighting, a piñata firetruck, toys, you name it.

“I didn’t ever think that it was something I couldn’t do because I’m female.”

While finishing up high school, Garvin showed her true determination.

“My first job was as a life guard and I immediately fell in love with being a first responder,” Garvin said. “At the age of 17, I became a volunteer firefighter and then went to school to be an emergency medical technician, and worked as an EMT throughout college.”

According to Garvin, she loves helping people but there have been times where her gender made for some challenging moments.

“When I was an EMT, I’ve had people try to cat call me or make inappropriate comments towards me to which I just laugh and say, ‘I have blood on me, this is not attractive, ok, thank you,’ and walk off,” Garvin said with a smile. “I used to work with my husband as an EMT and there were a couple of times someone would say something to me that completely baffled him.

“I would just smile and say, ‘Yeah, it happens,’ and I think it unfortunately happens a lot to females within these types of career fields.”

Garvin mentioned that even though she had an idea of what she was getting into in these male dominant career fields, she wasn’t about to let the gender differences stop her.

“The biggest thing I want to share with everyone is to do what makes you happy,” said Garvin. “If you find yourself in a position that you’re not entirely comfortable with, but deep down you know it’s something you are extremely passionate about, do it.

“Be persistent, do your research, and understand that you may find yourself in a situation where people may not be as welcoming for you, even if you are a female. Do not let that deter you from doing something that you really want to do because you don’t want to look back on things and regret not following your passions.”

Garvin is one of many resilient mentors here at MacDill who help encourage women to step out of their comfort zones and break down barriers. This trait is persistent and shines through her Airmen as well.

“Don’t be scared to do new things, especially in male dominant career fields,” added Airman 1st Class Halee Manning, a vehicle equipment maintainer with the 6th LRS. “Not all males are going to say, ‘Oh she’s a female, I’m stronger than her.’

“Being new to the Air Force, new to being a mechanic and working alongside males, I’ve learned that a lot of men have respect for women and they want to see us succeed. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and do the best that you can do.”

Garvin shared that their commander holds all personnel to extremely high standards across the board and she wouldn’t expect anything less.

“For anyone, eventually over time, it takes people getting used to you and trusting you to see that you’re capable of doing the same thing someone else is able to do,” Garvin stated. “If anyone comes across something that holds them back from going after the things they love, find a way to break it down.

“I get pumped when I look back and reflect on all of the incredible things we have accomplished and continue to accomplish as women!”