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By Senior Airman Andrew Bertain, Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs
/ Published June 16, 2021
U.S. Space Force Spc. 3 Isabella Perez, Space Delta 3 – Space Electronic Warfare, 16th Space Control Squadron space systems operator, poses for a picture, May 24, 2021 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Perez told her story about enlisting in the military at 29 years of age, and how she left her corporate life to be a part of the space mission. (U.S. Space Force graphic by Senior Airman Andrew Bertain)
U.S. Space Force Spc. 3 Isabella Perez, Space Delta 3 – 16th Space Control Squadron, space systems operator, poses for a picture, May 24, 2021 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Perez made a positive impact on those around her by sharing lessons learned from her life experiences with younger Airmen and Guardians in her unit. (U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Andrew Bertain)
For many, when joining the military, they leave behind their childhood room or their textbooks, but for U.S. Space Force Spc. 3 Isabella Perez, Space Delta 3 – Space Electronic Warfare, 16th Space Control Squadron space systems operator, she left behind corporate life and the water-cooler.
Joining at 29, the former accounts payable technician felt a little different than her new peers.
“I joined active duty pretty late,” said Perez. “I joined a little over a year ago at age 29. I’ve heard people refer to themselves as joining late in life at age 23-25, and so when people hear my age their next question is typically why I joined.”
Perez always had “join the military” in the back of her mind, but she decided enough was enough and didn’t want to regret never making the leap.
“I had wanted to join the military for a long time, ever since high school, but life would get in the way and the timing was never right,” said Perez. “That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to look back and think about what could have been.”
Being older than the typical first-term Airman or Guardian, Perez had different challenges when leaving civilian life behind.
“I was honestly pretty scared to join so late, to have to leave my job and uproot a life that was already established to start something completely new and foreign,” Perez admitted, “I had a lot of doubts about if I was making the right choice. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a bunch of kids that just graduated high school or that I would be secluded and everyone would see me as some old lady! I knew joining the military would mean living a very different life than I had before, and that was part of the appeal.”
While leaving one career for another was challenging, Perez explained how the office life led her to search for more.
“It might sound cheesy, but I just wanted to do something worthwhile,” said Perez. “I had always had an office job where what I did maybe had an impact on a company spreadsheet, but otherwise didn’t have any real impact. I wanted to do something that would have an impact on others. That’s why I joined the military and it’s why I’m glad I joined space, what we do has an impact on our overall mission.”
After Perez joined, she noticed another major difference between civilian and military life.
“The people in my current job are more willing to go out and know the person they work with,” explained Perez. “Maybe it’s because a lot of us moved out here without our families, but the comradery is not something you can find out in [the] corporate [world].”
Those around Perez have noticed her extra life experiences show in her work and see a wingman in and out of uniform.
“She can be the person that higher ranking individuals rely on because she has more life experience, which she also offers to younger Airmen and Guardians,” said U.S. Space Force Spc. 3 Jenny Mansilla-Solorzano, fellow DEL 3, 16th SPCS space systems operator. “The people at our unit really take to her kindness and sweet personality. During training she would help out other specialists and have more patience to explain something if the person doesn’t understand. She is hardworking and always committed to the team.”
As Perez prepares for a short notice deployment, her supervisor wanted to send her off with a message of assurance.
“The words of confidence I would give her is just continue to use your life experience to guide the younger specialists; you have a great outlook on life and are a positive influence to everyone around you,” said U.S. Space Force Sgt. Shannon Patterson, 16th SPCS non-commissioned officer in charge of Operational Support.