From Senegal, West Africa to the Maryland Air National Guard, Airman 1st Class Ousseynou Mbaye experienced quite a journey in his 28 years.
“It has been 10 years since I have been back home,” said Mbaye. “But my family is extremely proud of what I have accomplished thus far, especially being a member of the United States Air Force.”
He arrived in the United States in January 2007. Upon arrival he was expected to finish his last year of high school but did not speak any English.
“It was difficult but I was committed and studied English every single day,” expressed Mbaye. “I found what helped me learn the most was watching cartoons in English.”
His hard work paid off, graduating high school, then attending the Community College of Baltimore City for two years and finally transferring to ITT Technical Institute graduating with an Associate’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. Shortly after graduation, like many, Mbaye found himself working in a career field unrelated to his degree.
“What changed my mind about my life and career was when my son, Ayden, was born,” said Mbaye. “When I held my son, that was the moment I decided that working at a restaurant was not going to be it, I would not work there forever. I wanted to set a good example for my son and make sure his life would not be as rough as mine.”
Along with the birth of Ayden, Asia Hughes, Ayden’s mother, as well as Mbaye’s parents provided motivation and support to join the Maryland Air National Guard.”
Mbaye enlisted in October 2017 almost two years to the date of the birth of his son.
“Having a son changed my perspective on life, I use to hang out and be there for everyone else but now I have someone I brought into the world that I am responsible for, now, I’m focused on making sure my family is okay first.”
However, Mbaye’s son is not the only inspiration that led him to a military path.
“Since I was a kid I always admired the discipline and restraint military members displayed. I would see that in my grandfather, who was in the armed forces in West Africa,” said Mbaye. “In Senegal you have to be in the armed forces, my grandfather served his time and then it came time for his twin brother to serve, but he didn’t want to so my grandfather served his enlistment as well.”
According to Mbaye, the sense of pride his grandfather showed in serving his county was one that was instilled in him. He saw the opportunities the military afforded his grandfather and how well he was able to support his family. His grandfather’s experience and teachings encouraged him to set up a good life for his son but to do well for himself.
Airman 1st Class Mbaye is currently a base support specialist assigned to the 175th Force Support Squadron. He chose this career field because of his previous experience in the restaurant industry, but has considered later in his career cross-training to utilize his degree.
Since enlisting, Mbaye has expressed making great friendship and experiences along the way. One mentor, Master Sgt. Tammi George, base services manager assigned to the 175th Force Support Squadron, Maryland Air National Guard, has provided constant support and encouragement to him.
“Supervising A1C Mbaye has been a very easy process for me, said Master Sgt. George. “He is always the first to volunteer regardless of the need. His positive attitude contributes to a good working environment within the Force Support Squadron. I am super excited to be a part of his leadership and look forward to witnessing his continued professional growth.”
Mbaye’s goal is to be in the military at least 20 years or more.
“Joining the Maryland Air National Guard is one of the best things I’ve done thus far in my life,” said Mbaye. “I look forward to many more accomplishments and growth.”