An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Stepping stones to success - Airman defies cultural norms

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shelby Rapert
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

“I mean, it’s America. Everybody back home has that fantasy of coming here because that’s what we see on TV.”

Around the world, the United States is often referred to as a place of opportunity and freedom. For Senior Airman Elsie Anaglate, 435th Supply Chain Operations Squadron funds manager, moving to the U.S. and joining the Air Force allowed her to defy cultural norms towards women and pursue her own goals.

Côte D'ivoire, West Africa, is known for its warm weather and vacation beach resorts, but growing up there, Anaglate saw a different side of the country. She spoke about education expenses that most could not afford and gender roles that were seemingly set in stone.

“Women were meant to limit themselves to be housewives,” said Anaglate. “Meanwhile, men got to be themselves and pursue things like high corporate positions.”

When Anaglate’s father retired from working at the American embassy in the Ivory Coast, he decided to move their family to the states. Anagalate was 13 years old when she arrived in Darby, Pennsylvania, and ready to start a new chapter in her life.

As the oldest child, she also beared the responsibility of teaching her six siblings a new language and how to adjust to their new environment.

“I felt so lost at first,” said Anaglate. “Unless people were speaking very slowly, I couldn’t understand what they were saying.”

Like Anaglate, her father had high hopes for this new chapter, and high expectations for  education and employment came with it.

“He really had specifics in mind as far as what we could be,” she said. “ But the thing is, what if I don’t want to do that, you know?”

Despite the expectations of her father to become a doctor or lawyer, Anaglate decided to follow her own dreams and join the Air Force. When she arrived at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Anaglate struggled with yet another lifestyle to adapt to.

That’s until she met Master Sgt. Kweshi Raymond.

“It felt like he was the first person to not judge me,” she said. “He’s from Jamaica so I felt like he could relate more to me than most people.”

Raymond provided Anaglate with advice on how to work effectively within her unit and lower the metaphorical walls she had built up in her childhood. He encouraged her to use her voice as a strong African woman in the military to make a difference and push for success.

“I never had someone who spoke to me in such a manner that was so understanding and loving,” Anaglate recalled. “I appreciate it so much because he helped me become who I am today.”

Anaglate decided to join the Diversity and Inclusion Committee on Scott to provide education and awareness on unconscious biases toward different cultures through hard, honest conversations. In 2020, the committee received an Achievement Medal for their hard work.

Outside of work, Anaglate spends time working in real estate and hopes to one day give back to her home country.

“I plan on buying some land and starting restaurants and other real estate sites to create job opportunities,” she said. “It’s hard for people back home to find a job – most people there can’t go to school because it can be too expensive.”

Anaglate plans to graduate in May of 2023 with a Bachelors in Global Logistics Management that she will use to propel her dreams into a reality. She credits most of her current and future successes to the Air Force.

“I’ve been given tools to be a better person and a better leader,” Anaglate said. “I am so grateful for this stepping stone towards achieving everything I want and more.”