May 11, 2014 Updated: May 11, 2014 at 9:57 am
Growing up in Hawaii, Senior Airman Janee Tamayo, 24, started learning to hang 10 at age 5.
The Colorado Springs Armed Forces Week outstanding enlisted nominee hasn't completely transitioned to snowboarding, and doesn't like being cold. She does love Colorado and the support Colorado Springs provides to service members.
"This is the first time I've been away from the water, but it's beautiful here, and I'm thankful to have been able to come here, particularly because Colorado Springs is such a military-friendly area," Tamayo said.
A dental assistant for the Peterson Air Force Base's 21st Space Wing providing dental support to the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Tamayo began her career in the military with an ROTC scholarship at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she studied Japanese. Family issues forced her to give up the scholarship after only two years, and she enlisted to complete her service commitment to the Air Force.
"I was fortunate the Air Force wanted to retain me and part of paying back my scholarship was my enlistment," Tamayo said.
Tamayo said she is especially grateful for the support of her family and the chance to serve near her husband who is in the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Carson.
Both Hawaii natives, the couple first met in the Aloha State and they've been married for two years. Their military careers forced them to wed in a private ceremony far from home.
She said they plan to return home soon to renew their vows in front of friends and family.
While she continues to advance her technical skills as a dental assistant, Tamayo is returning to school to pursue a degree in exercise medicine with a long-term goal of attending medical school and becoming a doctor. She said the Air Force will provide her many paths to achieve that goal and she hopes to return the favor one day as an Air Force doctor in neurology or reconstructive surgery to help combat veterans returning with traumatic brain injuries, severe burns or amputations.
"There is still so little we know about the brain but some of the studies and the expansions that are being done in that area are very impressive and I would like to be a part of that," Tamayo said.
Tamayo said she is flattered and humbled to be given the opportunity to represent the military community at the annual Colorado Springs Armed Forces Week Luncheon at The Broadmoor on Tuesday, where the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance will announce the Outstanding Enlisted Members of the year.
"Regardless of what happens, I'm very thankful for the leadership I've had here. Whatever happens, it's a victory," Tamayo said.