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AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight: Makailah C. Badger: “We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for”

January 10, 2023

AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight: Makailah C. Badger: “We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for”

As we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re honored to spotlight Makailah Badger, who shares her story about growing up in a small village in Samoa, her dreams of becoming a U.S. citizen. Her life journey led her to Hawaii as a teenager, then to college, the military and eventually South Carolina where she joined PSA as an Aviation Parts Specialist. We are honored to share Makailah’s story below.

I was raised in a very small village in Afega, Samoa, with a population 3,000 people. When I was in middle school I wanted to move to the United States and join the Marine Corps so I could get my citizenship and become a U.S. citizen. This was my plan up until I was adopted at 15 years old and I moved to Kalihi, Hawaii. My twin brother and I became U.S. citizens when we were 16. I had a little bit of a language barrier when we moved and I began to worry about getting into a good college to be a psychologist and, if I did get in, I was afraid I would struggle. I read a lot of books, especially Harry Potter, to help me with my English.

During my senior year of high school, I decided that I would revert back to my plan of joining the Marine Corps. Even though I was already a United States citizen, I wanted to experience the rest of the United States, see the world and help people. In June 2012, I joined the Marine Corps. I loved everything about it. I was an aviation supply specialist and loved it so much I reenlisted after my first four years. I met my husband while stationed in San Diego. He is from the Philippines and moved to the United States when he was 11. During my first enlistment, I deployed three times – twice before having my son in 2014 and once in 2015 when he was only 10 months old. I deployed once again in 2017. Two years later, I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter and made the decision to not reenlist. I didn’t want my daughter to experience what my son had with deployments. I got out of the Marine Corps last March and my husband was then stationed in Beaufort, S.C., about an hour from the Savannah maintenance base.

I knew I wanted to stay in the aviation logistics field until I finished school so I started working with PSA as an Aviation Parts Specialist in September and I’ve enjoyed it every single day. This job is very similar to my job while I was active duty, so I caught on to everything pretty quickly. The people here are amazing to work with and this entire company is so well-organized and devoted to not only the overall mission, but to its team members as well. I couldn’t have chosen a better organization to be a part of. Everybody here is truly phenomenal.

Eventually, I want to move back to Kalihi and work as a nurse practitioner and deliver babies. If possible, I want to be able to work at a free clinic where I can help people who don’t have a lot of money, medical insurance or have trouble getting the medical attention that they need.

If I had to give anybody any advice, I think it would be not to settle. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. The opportunities are truly endless if you just apply yourself. Remember where you came from, but know where you want to go. Be humble and be a good person to everybody around you. Everything else just falls into place.

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