by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills
JBER Public Affairs
3/19/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Being
raised in a household of minimal means made achieving a traditional
education all but impossible for Air Force Staff Sgt. Cecilia de la
Rosa, 673d Medical Group noncommissioned officer in charge of
Her father, an immigrant and sole provider for a family of five, worked
as a welder and part-time musician in Phoenix, Arizona to supplement the
family income, while her mother raised her and her siblings.
Unable to afford a traditional education, de la Rosa attended a local community college.
"I had dreams for a higher education but I couldn't afford it," de la
Rosa said. "I wanted to be able to live on my own, maintain a great job
and go to Arizona State University, but I had to give up on my dreams."
While attending community college she met a friend who was in the
process of enlisting in the Air Force. Knowing nothing about the
military, she tagged along.
"While running errands one day, we stopped by the recruiter's office,
and after hearing them talk it sparked an interest in me," said de la
"After researching the different military branches, four words stood
out: travel, education, career and free" she said. Enlisting would not
only pay for my schooling and allow me to travel, but also pay me for my
"I evaluated my life at the time and knew I would not be able to live
out my dreams of traveling and receiving a higher education," de la Rosa
said. "At that point, the Air Force was my choice. Master Sgt. Elva
Shipp, a local recruiter, listened to what I had to say, and answered
all my questions. Soon after 9/11 happened, I knew I had to go. I had
De la Rosa graduated basic military training before proceeding to
Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, where she was trained as a nationally
registered diagnostic imaging specialist.
While on the job, de la Rosa stays busy administering ultrasounds to patients in need.
"I contribute to the mission by providing the best medical care I can,"
de la Rosa said. "We see all patients in a timely manner, to hopefully
get them back to doing their job that supports the mission as well."
During her service, she has encountered highs and lows in her chosen profession.
"Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of meeting amazing couples," de la Rosa said.
Although some visits can be awkward and uncomfortable, others are full of excitement and anticipation.
During one such visit a young couple arrived for their 20-week obstetrics anatomy screening with a positive outlook.
"Their energy alone was something I had never experienced before," de la
Rosa said. "From the moment I called their name in the waiting room to
the moment they left the ultrasound room, they were the most energetic,
friendly and loving couple [I had ever seen]."
During the visit, the couple remained engaged and absorbed all the information provided, she said.
Exams are procedural and to the point, with little conversation and
limited interaction. The diagnostic imaging technologist conducts the
examination and processes the results.
The couple was hoping for a baby girl but were more than happy with
either gender, as their main concern was having a happy, healthy baby.
"Are you guys ready to know the gender?" asked de la Rosa. "Of course,
they shook their head yes, so I found the best image I could and said
"congratulations...you're having a girl."
"Instead of the usual excitement that accompanies good news, the couple
remained quiet as they looked at each other; held hands and began to cry
while smiling the entire time. Afterwards they thanked her and asked if
they could give me a hug.
"I was delighted to hug each of them," said de la Rosa. "They had just made my day."
The situations aren't always success stories.
"My worst day was when I was a still a student," de la Rosa said. "I
brought a patient and her husband back to an exam room and began the
study. Within the first few seconds, I noticed the baby did not have a
heartbeat. My heart sank and my body went cold. I felt a lump in my
throat and was on the verge of tears."
Policy dictates the radiologists confirm the results and inform the patients.
Upon informing the patients that there was no heartbeat and the delivery
was not viable, de la Rosa broke into tears. "The husband sat next to
the wife, and began to cry as well. That was a heartbreaking moment for
Due to the demanding requirements placed on medical staff, the job can sometimes become overwhelming.
When this happens, Airmen look for ways to decompress.
"When the job becomes too much, I usually take leave and visit family
back home," de la Rosa said. "Sometimes I take leave and travel around
the local area. I love going to the movies, watching some of my favorite
TV shows with friends or just pampering myself."
Although everyone needs a break now and then, de la Rosa remains committed to her patients and her primary mission.
"I do this job every day and love what I do," de la Rosa said. "That
moment alone reminded me that what I do matters to others. I am military
24/7, but that is the not reason why I show up every day with a smile
on my face and deliver the best care that I can. I do it because I
believe in what I do."
De la Rosa's hard work and determination is recognized within the medical clinic.
"Staff Sgt. de la Rosa took on some of the most difficult tasks our
department faced and proved herself capable every time, tackling each
challenge head on," said Tech. Sgt. David Leon, 673d MDG picture
archiving and communications system administrator.
De la Rosa continues to maintain a positive outlook while embracing her
job and looking forward to the challenges associated with it.
"I absolutely enjoy my job," de la Rosa said. "My job is always growing
and changing. I will never be bored with it. It challenges me every day,
and I continue to learn new things.
"You have to be at the top of your game every single second. That may be
a tough standard, but I accept it, and work hard to achieve it every