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Humans of Scott: Nazma Phillips’ indelible impact

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daisy Quevedo
  • 375 Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

As a young girl from Bangladesh, one future U.S. Airman would likely struggle to recognize the leader she has now become. 

Throughout the first two decades of her life in Bangladesh, the thought of becoming a U.S. Air Force leader would be something she never thought possible … until it became her reality.

Master Sgt. Nazma Philips, 437th Supply Chain Operations Squadron, was raised in a traditional, conservative family where her decisions were expected to align her family’s direction. She grew up in a very loving home and understood that while she was an important family member, her father was the head of the household.

Phillips, however, had a vision for her life and felt she was destined to impact others. Life took a turn when Phillips immigrated to the United States at 21; however, the real catalyst for igniting her belief in her freedom was who she saw standing in a United States military uniform.

"When I moved to the States, I was invited to a military function," said Phillips. "That's when I saw females in uniform, I was like, 'Wow! Can I do that?'”

She saw women and men standing shoulder to shoulder in uniform. In that moment, Phillips resolved to forge her path and take control of her life.

"I called a recruiter that day," said Phillips. "He said, 'It doesn't matter if your English is poor as long as you can pass the ASVAB.'"

Her determination to succeed was unwavering as she practiced conversations in English, diligently studied the material her recruiter provided, and even found creative ways to learn through watching cartoons.

Just like any other significant life change, Phillips faced countless challenges adjusting to a new culture and military lifestyle, but she soon realized her deeply rooted values of honesty, respect, selflessness, and ability to adapt would play a huge role.

Phillips has maintained her eagerness to contribute to opportunities throughout her Air Force career. This servant attitude, combined with her personal experience and cultural values, enabled Phillips to take action as she spearheaded base Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEI&A) programs, volunteered as a Victim Advocate, and earned a TOP III executive council award.

A good example of Phillips’ servant attitude took place last year during a deployment. 

"We noticed emotions beginning to flare among the Airmen," said Phillips. "We could see they were stressed out, missing their families, and in need of some mentorship. Our team organized a support group open to people of all backgrounds and included both women and men." 

Through her efforts, base-wide recognition events were launched, celebrating the unique contributions of over 2,000 personnel. Phillips also inspired her team to plan 15 cross-cultural awareness celebrations and 20 professional development courses. The initiatives and her leadership earned her and her team recognition from the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Command Chief.

Phillips has received multiple awards for her community involvement and dedication to leading the next generation. These include the 635th SCOG volunteer of the quarter, NCO of the year, and Lance P. Sijan nomination.

Phillips’ journey is one of many stories that illustrates the Air Force is a place for members from all walks of life. Speaking to the future generation, Phillips has one message of encouragement. 

"I see you," said Phillips. "I understand the position you are in, coming from a different background and a different culture. We see you, understand you, and say to you, bring it on."