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Women’s History Month: mothers influence

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Debra Reynolds, instructional systems advisor with the 50th Operations Support Squadron, stands in one of her favorite locations on base, the meditation room, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, March 5, 2018. Reynolds’ biggest female role model is her mother, who taught her valuable life lessons she still applies today. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

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Airman 1st Class Azenette Guzman, entry controller with the 50th Security Forces Squadron, smiles for a photo at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 13, 2016. Guzman believes Women’s History Month is about recognizing all contributions women have made throughout history, and looks up to her mother because she believes she represents what a strong and independent woman embodies. (Courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

After being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project in 1987, Congress passed a bill designating the month of March as Women’s History Month.

During March, people reflect on influential females who have made the greatest impact in their lives.

Debra Reynolds, instructional systems advisor with the 50th Operations Support Squadron, a “tough little girl” from Stockton, California, grew up the youngest out of five brothers and two sisters.

Reynolds joined the Air Force in 1978 as an Airman, and served 20 years.

“Things were a little different handling social issues,” she said. “Either you had to be strong or you wouldn’t make it.”

Reynolds added although the military has challenged her, she has always been true to who she is.

“We have good times and we’ve had bad,” Reynolds said. “Going into a field where it is predominately male, you should always stand up for who you are. Sometimes women try and be the guy when they come into the military. You’re here with a set of skills to give, and you’re not here for this person or that person. Be true to yourself.”

Reynolds has been at Schriever for 18 years as a civilian, after serving five years with the 2nd Space Wing.

“It has been interesting to see some of the phenomenal women that have operated in leadership,” she said. “I’ve been in the same office for 18 years, seen people come in and grow to hold their own.”

In addition to witnessing multiple women holding leadership roles, Reynolds has also seen non-commissioned officers in charge who have worked hard and have brought unique gifts to the table.

“I believe we as women are unique in ourselves,” she said. “We have a tendency to nurture and we communicate very well. It’s important we use our social skills to be who we are.”

Reynolds’ biggest piece of advice for women wanting to join the military is to be engaged in the work process.

“You can accomplish anything you set out to do,” she said. “Be proactive without being dominate, be yourself and strive to be the best with the gift that you have. Never compare yourself to other people. If you do, you’re going to miss out on learning who you are and what you have to give.”

Reynolds always keeps the mission in the back of her mind, and for her that is training.

“We train every single day,” she said. “We train each other, just talking and learning from each other is a form of training. I try to encourage and show kindness to everyone I come in contact and talk to on a daily basis.”

She believes Women’s History Month should promote the multicultural history of women, and should not focus on a specific race, ethnicity or occupation.

“I hope the month teaches people about all of the roles women have played in our society,” Reynolds said.

Airman 1st Class Azenette Guzman, entry controller from the 50th Security Forces Squadron, believes Women’s History Month should acknowledge all the contributions women have made throughout history.

“It’s not that you purposefully forget, but it gets put on a back burner and it’s brought to more people’s attention during the month,” she said. “Even if you don’t know a lot about it, during the month people actually pay attention, look up facts and become more interested.”

Guzman joined the Air Force because going to school full time and working two jobs became overwhelming.

After her third year, she decided she needed to take a different path, and followed her uncle’s advice to join the Air Force.

Guzman has faced prejudice in her career field, but expressed people do not realize they’re doing it the majority of the time.

“The way I ignore and surpass it is I show them I can,” she said. “Just because I am short and a female doesn’t mean I can’t do what a man can do.”

During the month of March, Reynolds reflected on the female who has influenced her the most, and without hesitation, she chose her mother.

She instilled values on Reynolds from a young age, and follows most of those values today.  

“She taught me to respect myself and others, give myself without expecting something in return, set standards for myself and always believe in yourself,” she said. “Although she didn’t have a higher education, she said ‘I may not be able to give you everything, but I can give you this.’”

Most importantly, Reynolds’ mother taught her to always uphold the highest amount of respect in herself.

Guzman’s most influential woman in her life is also her mother.   

“She’s the type of woman who represents a strong and independent person in my life,” she said. “She went through a lot of obstacles, like having a child and getting divorced at a young age, but she didn’t let that stop her.”

Guzman’s mother taught her to pick herself up when she is down, and not depend on anyone else to be successful.

“She told me to never doubt myself,” Guzman said. “She said, ‘Ultimately, it’s your life and decision and you’re the one that is going to live your life, so do it for you and don’t listen to what others try to tell you.’”

Guzman’s mother has given her various pieces of advice, but the most important thing she has taught Guzman is to push through.

“No matter what you’re going through in life and no matter what people tell you, you can surpass what people think of you and can be successful,” she said.

For Reynolds, the most significant piece of advice from her mother was simple:

“Go for it girl, you can do it.”

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