DVIDS – News – An aspiring leader taps into his humble past in search of success

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – As a child, Antonella Escalante was not allowed to leave her home after being escorted from school by her family.

At the time, violence, drug use and child trafficking were rampant in his hometown of Jarabacoa, located in central Dominican Republic.

“My family was very protective,” she recalls. “That’s why I try to show off to others, because I want a positive, strong community.”

Escalante, now a specialist assigned to the U.S. Army Medical Department’s activity in Japan, said she was grateful her family instilled in her the values ​​she tries to live in her current job as a lab technician.

The lab, which is inside the US Army BG Sams Health Clinic, routinely runs around 150 tests a day that monitor for COVID-19 and an array of other conditions found in urine tests. and blood tests.

“I love my job; I can impact patients,” the 24-year-old soldier said. “If I don’t do my job, people can’t be diagnosed. And I want to take care of people.

Outside of her lab coat, Escalante, a geographic spinster, serves as her unit’s representative for the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program. She also volunteers with Army Community Service to help with administrative data and other duties.

“I love giving to people,” she said. “I don’t just want to take; I want to give.”

His close-knit family showed him how to do this. She grew up in a humble one-bedroom home with five other family members. They had to put several beds in a room for sleeping and hang curtains between them for some semblance of privacy. Her mother, who was just 16 when Escalante was born, often worked while her grandparents and aunts cared for her.

Despite their situation, her family would always be happy to provide food for less fortunate neighbors who sometimes knocked on their door in need, she said.

“My family raised me well with good values, and one of the values ​​is that if someone does something nice for you, make sure you pay them at least three times over,” she said. declared.

In 2014, she was able to move to the United States with some of her family members hoping for better opportunities.

Escalante was then the first in her family to attend college and earned an associate’s degree in forensic science and a bachelor’s degree in health science. She was recently accepted to pursue a master’s degree in health administration at the University of North Carolina, where she aims to join its ROTC program and become an officer.

She is also a linguist who can speak four languages ​​and is learning a fifth, she said.

The support she and her family received in America made her feel like she had a debt to pay. So, in 2019, she decided to join the army.

“I was very grateful to have the opportunity to move to a country where if you want to do what you want to do in life, you can achieve it as long as you work hard,” she said. “I am also grateful for the security my family members have every day, and I know that these sacrifices are not free.”

Staff Sgt. Domonic Pennington, section chief for several ancillary services at the clinic, has worked with Escalante since arriving in Japan about a year ago.

“Since her arrival, she’s had a go-getter mentality,” he said. “She continually asks questions: ‘What can I do for you? How can I improve my career and improve yours? She challenges his leadership. She just wants more.

Escalante recently won her unit’s neighborhood soldier award, and Pennington thinks she could win at the U.S. Army level in Japan.

After learning to be a frugal in her youth, Escalante also became a budding financial guru. She said she saved more than a quarter of her salary, sent money to her grandparents in the Dominican Republic, and helped other soldiers with their own budgets.

“What she brings to our team are her communication skills, her financial skills as well as her positive emotions,” Pennington said. “I see great potential in her as a non-commissioned officer as well as a commissioned officer in the US military.”

As her unit and family continue to motivate her, Escalante said she also receives inspiration whenever she sees a female soldier in a leadership role.

Women have served in the military since 1775. Today, women make up 16% of the service and can serve in all career fields, according to the Army Equity and Inclusion Agency.

Last year, General Laura Richardson became the second woman in the Army to achieve the rank of four-star general and the second woman to lead a combatant command when she was sworn in to lead US Southern Command.

“It makes me proud,” Escalante said of female leaders. “It makes me feel strong and that I can take on the world. It’s wonderful to see women progress.

(The article was originally published on the USAG Japan website on February 28, 2022 and can be found at www.army.mil/article/254342)

Date taken: 28.02.2022
Date posted: 15.03.2022 00:49
Story ID: 416471
Location: JP

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Brandon D. James