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"When I take a step back and look at my job, I think, ‘Wow, I’m doing important stuff.’ Knowing I’m making a difference makes me really enjoy what I do."
Sergeant | Space Force
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Chanel first took an interest in military service while she was in high school. She realized that utilizing the Military’s numerous Tuition Assistance programs would help her pay for college. “The cost of school and the fear of being complacent drove me to join,” she says. “Education benefits are some of the best opportunities that motivated me to be in the Military. I love learning and I have enough time to study when I get home from work. I’m currently using Tuition Assistance for graduate school, and I still have my GI Bill to further my education if I wanted to pursue that as well.”
Chanel’s first military role was evaluating and neutralizing potential threats to the United States as a space systems operator in the Air Force’s Space Command. When the Space Force was established in 2019, many Airmen in the Air Force were given the opportunity to become Space Force Guardians, which was a move Chanel decided to embrace.
Protecting the Final Frontier
As a space systems operator, Chanel and her team protect the United States’ aerospace endeavors. “We’re making sure that our space assets are safe,” she says. “We’ll do threat modeling and analysis for those assets to ensure that no one is messing with them. Using different modeling software, we report on a daily basis to the director of the National Reconnaissance Office. Sometimes, depending on how serious the threat is, the report can go out to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and combatant commanders.”
The significance of Chanel’s role extends far beyond the Military. “There’s definitely a global impact. These satellites are used by people around the world — it’s the reason why your phone can work outside the country or why you don’t need to be a U.S. citizen to use GPS. You really have to understand that these things are used in your everyday life. Like, your phone requires satellites. Getting from point A to point B requires satellites. Just regular communication, banking and public transportation require satellites.”
Despite the high tempo of her work environment and her numerous responsibilities, Chanel isn’t always focused on the final frontier. She and her fellow Guardians enjoy a great work-life balance. This allows Chanel to pursue other interests outside of the Military, like discovering her green thumb building a sizable plant collection. “I found a really great hobby in buying plants and taking care of them,” she says. “I have an aspect of relaxation through repotting plants and being able to take time and clear my mind while watering."
Eyes on the Sky
Chanel continues to enjoy her role within the Space Force. “The Military will train you to be great in your field and show you that you can do anything you put your mind to. There are so many possibilities,” she says.