Rachelle Nielsen: Wings Of Support

As a child, Rachelle learned the importance of helping others. Her personal compassion, she'd later discover, would be essential to her career.


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.

Watch a related video: “Road to a Career”

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.”

Learn more about Aerospace Physiology Careers


During her free time, Rachelle volunteers at the Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, S.C., gathering dinners for the less fortunate. “I’m not surprised at all that she volunteers still,” her mom says. “I think she will be doing that forever.”


Rachelle and her fellow service members discuss Airmen Against Drunk Driving, an organization that helps service members get home safely with just a phone call.

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