Hispanic Heritage Month: 354 MDG captain recounts journey from Puerto Rico to Alaska

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ricardo Sandoval

From the warm streets of Aibonito, Puerto Rico to the last, and cold, frontier of Alaska, U.S. Air Force Capt. Adamaris Rivera, officer in charge of the 354th Medical Group pharmacy, has found success through her resiliency.

Obstacles are never asked for, however, the reactions and growth from them can say a lot about a person. Rivera never asked for a difficult journey in life, yet she has continued to stay true to herself and never lost sight of her motivation.

“Family,” said Rivera. “I just want to make sure my mom is proud and I think she is.”

It was Rivera’s childhood experience with her mom that taught her independence and began to mold her into the leader she is today.

“My parents were in the process of getting a divorce and it was a very difficult time,” said Rivera. “My mom tried to commit suicide when I was in fifth grade.”

Rivera made a decision during this difficult and confusing time in her life. She buried her head in her studies and decided to become more independent in order to give her mom one less thing to worry about.

As a result, she strived for excellence through high school and then attended the University of Puerto Rico, one of the best universities in Puerto Rico. Originally a biotechnology major, Rivera changed her major to microbiology because the biotechnology courses she was enrolled in didn't count toward her goal of attending pharmacy school.

“When I was in my fourth year, I applied for pharmacy school and I got denied,” explained Rivera. “I decided to finish my bachelor’s degree and apply again the next year and that time, I got accepted.”

However, this meant that Rivera would leave the only place she called home and attend Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Rivera had to start over but the vibrant Hispanic culture in Florida helped her adjust to living in the United States and her continued motivation helped her achieve her goal.

“The first year was very challenging but once I created a routine, it was a little bit easier,” said Rivera. “But I knew going back to Puerto Rico was not an option for me.“

Rivera spent her time in Florida attending classes and then rewatching lectures in order to pass every course she took. All the while, working as a delivery driver to make some extra cash. After completing pharmacy school Rivera was able to secure a job with a retail pharmacy store and worked with them for two years. However, Rivera sought more job security and benefits geared toward her goals which is what motivated her to join the United States Air Force.

Her Air Force career had taken her to Texas and a deployment to Afghanistan before arriving at Eielson. It was her during her deployment that she was a part of a three-person team running 24 hour operations.

“It was very challenging because you need a pharmacist pretty much all the time,” added Rivera. “But I really enjoyed my deployment and learned a lot.”

Now at Eielson, Rivera is constantly in the pharmacy working the window and continuing to strive for her goals. She was recently selected for promotion to the rank of major, a culmination of her work up to this point in her Air Force career.

“Life is difficult and life is not easy,” said Rivera. “You need to ask yourself what are your goals and just work toward that, no matter how long it’s going to take you. If you put in the dedication and time, anything is possible.”