Tech Sgt. Sarahlizamarie Pante-Berrios received the Federal Asian Pacific American Council’s Uniformed Services Award.
The award recognizes members of all uniformed services for fostering harmonious relationships between the services and the Asian and Pacific Islander communities while exhibiting distinguished behavior and being a leader in overcoming discrimination, promoting equal opportunity and developing all members of the civilian and uniformed services.
“I am truly humbled by the award,” she said. “This award means a lot to me because it has given me a chance to reflect and look back on the accomplishments – not just specific to me but, more importantly, to my family and the Filipino culture as a whole.”
Pante-Berrios is Filipino-American and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in October 2008. She serves as the instructor supervisor for the Security Forces Craftsman Course at Chapman Training Annex for the 343rd Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. She oversees academic records of more than 1000 students, ensuring objective application of standards and equal opportunity for successful course completion and advancement for technical and craftsman-level students.
“I have been told many times that I work too much, but to be honest, it is because I truly love what I do, and I take a lot of pride in it,” she said.
According to Pante-Berrios, hard work is one of the hallmarks of her culture, along with passion, drive and determination in the face of any challenge or task. She credits her parents with instilling her with these values. She was born into a military family when her father was stationed in Oak Harbor, Washington. He set the example by staying true to his roots while serving – something she strives to do as well.
“There are a lot of aspects of my culture that I share with others,” she said. “One of the most popular is the delicious Philippine cuisine. I love to share my cultural experiences and stories every chance I get because sometimes I feel that being able to share those experiences is a way that others learn.”
She is also grateful that through serving in the U.S. Air Force, she gets to meet so many people from different cultures and learn about their experiences. She sees that as a way of traveling without having to go anywhere.
Pante-Berrios finds the diversity across the United States to be heartwarming, and in the Asian and Pacific Islander community specifically, she has seen many success stories. She hopes that Asians and Pacific Islanders maintain their identity even in a multicultural society.
“I see myself as an example to stay true to who you are and represent your heritage with pride,” she said. “As a security forces instructor, I have had many students who are of Asian Pacific Islander ethnicity come up to me with many questions, and I always tell them to embrace our culture and to remember your roots.”
For her, embracing her culture is what has enabled her to embrace the Air Force core values: integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do.
To learn more about Asian Pacific American Heritage, please visit https://asianpacificheritage.gov/.