EL PASO, TX, UNITED STATES
Story by Tech. Sgt. Lynn M. Means
A patient waits with bated breath. Her time has come – the test has started. She tilts her head back and braces herself, eyes closed as the medic slides a nose swab to the back of the nasal cavity. It keeps going in – relentlessly farther – seemingly all the way to the brain. Why does it need to go so far?! She tries hard not to reel back.
“People sneeze on us – sometimes they grab our hands, which is pretty fair, I guess.”
With piercing eyes and a kind voice, Airman 1st Class Jyoti KC helps her patients through this uncomfortable procedure. Each day on average, she tests more than 80 patients for the COVID-19 virus.
KC, a 136th Airlift Wing medic, says she is proud to be a part of the COVID response, taking care of other Texans.
“I love to help people,” said KC. “They appreciate us being outside here, and they can see how dedicated we are for them. You know, for Texas.”
KC’s compassion and drive to serve others has shown as a beacon to others on her team.
“Airman KC is one of our medics here at Charlie-2 down in El Paso,” said Lt. Col. Theresa Chrystal, the medical testing team C-2 officer in charge. “I’ve been working with her for about the past month, and she is just a bright, shining light! You see that she’s professional, and she’s one of those people you feel an immediate connection to and enjoy being around.”
KC’s mix of kindness and absolute professionalism was shocking to Chrystal, as this young Airman has only been in the Air Force a very short time. In fact, KC joined the COVID response effort only months after completing technical training.
“She comes to us as a professional and wants to be part of the mission,” said Chrystal. “She’s driven, she’s passionate, and she really cares about everything and everyone.”
Chrystal said KC has the best technique with her patients.
“Everyone is very blessed when they get Airman KC to swab them,” said Chrystal. “She is quick, and she’s got a great personality and makes them feel at ease. I’m very proud of her character and the fact that she’s doing a very good job, even as such a young Airman.”
Chrystal is excited for the career KC has ahead of her, saying she hopes to inspire KC to keep motivating that passion - the fire inside her.
“She wants to be an aerospace engineer,” said Chrystal. “And she’s going to be a rocket scientist one day! And I know she’ll make huge strides in the Air National Guard, and I’m very proud to work with her and know her.”
Originally from Nepal, KC moved to the United States in 2017, setting her eyes on new goals and a new career direction.
“Back in Nepal, I was doing architectual engineering,” KC said. “Then I moved here, and I had always wanted to do aerospace engineering.
As she described her passions, KC began to smile and her eyes focused off into space. She said the fascination started at a young age.
“When I was ten, I had a neighbor who was a pilot,” KC said. “I think that was the first click that, ‘I want to fly.’ Now I think about aircraft, being an astronaut, going into space and exploring space. It’s kind of fascinating.”
KC said she allowed that fascination to fan into a passion. And the more she learned about aircraft, she slowly developed an even stronger interest in spacecraft.
“I began reading,” said KC. “Learning about the backgrounds of different astronauts and how they started their journey to become an astronaut. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know about it. It’s not just a hobby – it’s more of a passion.”
KC said each night while she serves on the COVID response mission, she also takes evening classes online, with plans to enroll into a university after the pandemic. Her goal is to major in aerospace engineering and minor in mechanical engineering.
Meanwhile, she continues to serve in the Texas Air National Guard, enjoying the camaraderie and learning from everyone she encounters.
“The Air Force is a diversified organization,” KC said. “I have a different culture, my background is different, and I’m working with people who are from different backgrounds.
“And I like them! I like the way they think – they are pretty unique. Their perspectives are different, so you always learn from them. It always inspires me.”