NASIC Airman named one of AF's top 12

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Raymond Hoy
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center
A National Air and Space Intelligence Center Airman was named one of the Air Force's Top 12 Airmen of the Year in an announcement from the Air Force Personnel Center Monday, July 27, 2015.

Senior Airman Meaghan Holley, a native of Duluth, Minn., was selected by a special board at the AFPC and is now authorized to wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon with the bronze service star device. She will also have the distinct privilege to wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year Badge for one year from the date of formal presentation.

Holley, who joined the Air Force in January of 2012, sat down to answer a few questions about what this meant to her and some of the things she did to make herself a strong contender for the award:

Why did you join the Air Force? I joined the Air Force for the same reasons as many others; I really wanted to attend college, but I wasn't able to afford it on my own and didn't want to rely on my family to help put me through school. I also just didn't know what I wanted to do with my life as far as a career. I come from a military family, and one of my brothers couldn't speak highly enough about his time in the Air Force Reserve. He was probably one of the greatest inspirations for my joining. Both he and my parents, who were both Army captains, helped me realize that I would get both job and life experience by joining the military, which would set me ahead of my peers if I decided to get out after my four year enlistment was over.

How did you find out you were selected for this award? I was at work, actually expecting a return call from my husband. When I answered the phone, fully expecting it to be my spouse, a two-star general responded! He told me I was just the person he wanted to speak with and that it was his honor to inform me that I was chosen as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

How did that make you feel? I was in shock! I have to say I don't know if it has completely sunk in yet. This is probably the biggest honor I've received, and how do you process something like that? Now I can't wait to see what this next year has in store for me. It'll be so exciting to be able to meet so many new people and have new experiences that I may not otherwise have the opportunities for.

What did you think your chances were of winning? To be completely honest, I didn't think I would win. There are so many amazing Airmen doing so many really great things that I had convinced myself I probably wouldn't be selected. I know three past winners, and after spending time with them I felt anything I did paled in comparison. My leadership wasn't so easily deterred however. They were supportive through all the boards and hoops that had to be jumped through. My supervisor told me when they first submitted the package to our squadron, "If anyone has a chance of winning, it is you." This gave me courage that maybe I had a chance.

What do you think made you a strong contender? I think what helped me be a strong contender is I stayed busy inside and outside of work. At work, I did my best to be as proficient as I could. This past year alone I was able to help support three different flights within my squadron, which gave me a wide range of experiences. Outside of work, I can't sit still. I finished my (Community College of the Air Force degree) in intelligence studies, my bachelor's degree in behavioral science, and I love to volunteer. All of my life I've loved dogs and I've loved to help people. So, as soon as I moved out of the dorms I adopted a dog from the shelter and trained him to be a therapy dog. We now visit over 80 nursing home and hospice residents each week. So I think just the sheer hours I've devoted to spending in the community greatly impacted how strong of a contender I was.

What advice can you give Airmen with the hopes of being recognized next year? I don't think anyone can set out planning on winning the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. If you look at the past winners, they have made the Air Force a lifestyle instead of merely a day job. These Airmen embody what it means to be a complete Airman. These Airmen choose to be the best they can be. They go out of their way to volunteer and attend school, and they strive to become experts at their jobs. They don't do all these things because they wanted to win the 12 OAY. They did everything because they wanted to be the best Airman they could be. How someone handles themselves outside of work, however, is what can separate two Airmen from each other. Furthering your education and giving back to the community are two really great ways to stand out. The advice I was given for volunteering was find something you enjoy. If you enjoy what you are doing and are gleaning meaning from it, then you will be more likely to keep going back.

How important were mentors for you in winning this award? I couldn't have done nearly as much without them. My mentors and leadership have been my support system since I came into the military. I had a supervisor tell me that I shouldn't come back to work from lunch until I had signed up for a speech class to finish my associate's degree. I had been procrastinating with signing up for that last class and my supervisor gave me just the boost that I needed to finish. I had another mentor encourage me to go to college and get my degree knocked out while I was still young; he even helped me look for schools with a program I was interested in. Other mentors were emotional support for me while my husband was stationed across the country from me for two years. Having a strong, supportive mentor is crucial in the development of an Airman. I have been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors guiding me these past few years I've been in the military.

Where do you hope to go from here? From here, I just hope to continue serving God and my country the best that I can. I will strive to embrace all the new opportunities and experiences that may come my way, while supporting the mission to get the job done. I want to stay humble and to continue to learn to be a better leader and Airman. I don't know where I will be or what I will be doing for the rest of my life, but I look forward to seeing what is in store!