You Have A Calling.
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Rachelle Nielsen: I love helping others.
Rachelle Nielsen: The reason why I have this feeling of wanting to give back is because of my family and just the core values that they have. Being in the military means that I am providing my support: my support for this country and my support for everybody else around me. I was born in Catarman, Philippines. My mom is a Filipino citizen and my dad was in the US Air Force. Growing up in the Philippines is very much of a family culture.
Editha Nielsen: Her helping people started at home. She saw in us what we were doing. It just kind of instilled in her slowly.
Jermaine Loresco: In the Philippines, you know, we’re all very hospitable, and friendly, and really open to just help out others, and that’s how Rachelle is.
Rachelle: I started volunteering around 17 years old, when I was still in high school. My mom had volunteered with me and I volunteered with Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Humane Society, and I also volunteered to get groceries for the elderly.
Kyle Lang: She is very generous. She’s a character, and she loves to laugh. She takes a lot of time volunteering for the Harvest Food Bank.
Erin Tyler: Rachelle is with a group from Shaw Air Force Base that comes to help us pack boxes for our food program. She’s a very hard worker and very easy to work with, and we love having her here.
Rachelle: When I started volunteering, it just made me realize how I was able to give back, and so that’s when I started considering the military.
Editha: I cried the very first day she told me about it because when she went in, I was afraid that she was not tough enough.
Rachelle: I was, you know, the pink high heels, dance team kind of girl, but I just had to mentally prove to myself that I can get the job done.
Editha: Now I realize, oh, gosh, I got some special kind of daughter here. She can do it.
Rachelle: My dad was so proud of me. He hugged me so tight and was so ecstatic for me, and he still is.
This 12/P mask has kind of incorporating inhalation and exhalation valves. Pressure demand means that when you breathe in, it’s giving you oxygen, when you breathe out, it’s going to cut off.
My career field is aerospace and operational physiology. We work with aircrew, parachutists, and pilots.
Cameron Chisholm: We teach students about hypoxia, the loss of oxygen to the brain. When they’re flying in these aircrafts, they need to know exactly how this is going to affect them, what they’re going to feel, and if they feel their symptoms, they’re going to need to know how to correct them in case there’s an emergency. It keeps them safe.
Rachelle: So the system right here gives you that simulation and it tries to make it as realistic as possible.
Paul Depker: This type of instruction is important, because if you don’t know the signs and you’re not looking for them, and you don’t monitor yourself as well as others, I mean, it can be a real issue.
Rachelle: My role in operating this altitude chamber is lecturing and being inside observer, making sure the individuals inside the chamber get the appropriate training, and make sure they do it safely.
Barbara Holmes: When I was in the chamber, Sergeant Nelson was actually the reason why I knew my hypoxia was setting in. She’s very excited about her job, and she brought us all in and made us understand it.
Rachelle: Knowing that the pilots, the aircrew, the parachutists that are in that altitude chamber, that you’re making sure they’re trained, it just makes you realize you’re doing something to give back.
Cameron: Sergeant Nielsen really does enjoy working with other service members. She’s great about giving advice about the career field and how she wants to look to the future. It’s a good kind of reflection to me and it gives me an example of how I want to lead my personal life.
Rachelle: Filipino tradition, you always have to make your family proud, so it makes me proud of myself that I’m actually doing something for everybody else as well. This uniform makes me realize every day that I’m doing something for not just myself, not just the person right next to me, but all over the world.
A Culture of Selflessness
Born in the city of Catarman in the Philippines, Rachelle was introduced early to a culture of selflessness. “Her helping people started at home,” her mother, Editha, says. “Her grandmother was sick and she would help her. She would bring her classmates at school food. It’s just always been helping people.” Rachelle’s family moved to the United States when she was seven, and she began volunteering with organizations like Make-A-Wish in high school. After graduating, she looked for a way to help others as a career.
When I started volunteering, it just made me realize how I was able to give back. That’s when I started considering the Military.
Keeping Others Safe
In her role as an Aerospace Physiology Technician, Rachelle instructs Airmen about the dangers of hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain that results in disorientation. Rachelle simulates changes in oxygen level and cabin pressure in a large device called a hypobaric chamber, all so pilots know how to react in case an emergency strikes. “How does it make me feel that my daughter teaches some of the best pilots in the world?” her mom asks. “It makes me real proud. I think it’s awesome. And she should be proud of herself, too.”
Rachelle began volunteering with her mother at a young age.
Rachelle began volunteering with her mother at a young age.
“The Filipino culture and American culture are definitely a lot different. [Filipino culture] formed my personality by just kind of being able to adapt to environments, adapt to different people, and getting a chance to sit next to somebody and actually start talking to them as if I knew them, just so that I have that personal interaction with them.”
Rachelle's father is retired Air Force and was very supportive of her decision to join. “He actually wanted me to be in the Military before I could even enlist. He’s talked to me [about it] since I was young. He said how awesome it was, how he could travel, how he could go do things, go wherever they needed him.”Learn more about serving in the Air Force
“I was a dance team, wearing pink, girly type of girl. I liked to have my independence, do my own thing. Let’s just say I can still wear this [military] uniform, but still be able to be the person I want to be, as girly as I may be.”More about Social Life in the Military
As an Aerospace Physiology Technician, Rachelle lectures Airmen about flight safety in a classroom, flight simulator and hypobaric chamber.Learn more about Military Careers for Medical and Clinical Technologists & Technicians
Rachelle operates a flight simulator called the ROBD (Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device), which is connected to the Hypoxia Familiarization Trainer (HFT). "What those two systems do is give a real-world example for pilots … of them flying that aircraft, getting sick and getting hypoxic, [to see if] they would be able to operate and get down in altitude without hurting the aircraft and hurting [themselves]."Learn more about advanced training in the Military
Airmen in the hypobaric chamber receive instruction from Rachelle (pictured far right). "It's a simulation, as if you're up at an altitude unpressurized —25,000 feet in the chamber [feels like] you're sitting at 25,000 feet. Your body can't handle that altitude [unpressurized]… and will get hypoxic. So this system right here gives you that situation, and it tries to make it as realistic as possible."
"The lecturing aspect of my job is getting a chance to be in front of the students and give them that knowledge of hypoxia, about crash and escape, about oxygen equipment. Everything that could help them if anything did happen to them. Whatever it may be, we give them that situational awareness of what options they have, what equipment they have and what things can happen to them and how they can fix it."
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CAREER FIELD: MEDICAL & CLINICAL TECHNOLOGISTS & TECHNICIANS
Learn more about Rachelle's career field and the many opportunities available within it.