JOINT BASE ANDREWS Md. -- A former Miss U.S Virgin Islands United States 2016 recently joined the Air Force Reserve as a way to capture her dream to become a physician in the military. Airman First Class Taquara Rashida Felix shares her journey of shifting gears from pageant contestant to Air Force medic.
As a young girl, Felix watched beauty pageants with her mother and aunt. While pageant life amazed her, she never actually gave much thought to participating in a pageant. “It was just something fun to watch, nothing I ever saw myself doing,” she said. “I had a lot of goals and aspirations, but doing beauty pageants was not one of them”
As she got older, she eventually stopped watching pageants and started focusing on other things such as school. She studied abroad in Spain for a year and eventually became fluent in Spanish. Once she returned from her studies graduating with a dual degree, she became a Spanish teacher at a high school in Richmond, Va.
“I grew up in a West Indian household. My mother is from Montserrat and my father is from Dominica,” she said. “English is my first language and Spanish is my second. Studying abroad and visiting more than 12 countries really helped me understand other cultures and languages.”
While still finding her way, starting organizations and teaching, Felix decided she wanted to do even more to give back to her community and educate those around her near and far. She decided to do some research on the pageant life she once adored.
“At this point in my life, I was ready to try something new, I knew that participating in a pageant could give me the platform I needed for my organization the Spice Rack, which promotes cultural awareness, diversity, and inclusion to address community and global challenges,” she said. “I decided to just go for it.”
Because Felix has family in the U.S Virgin Islands, she was qualified to run for that territory. Having never done a pageant before, she was nervous, and anxious, but determined. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I prepared,” she said. “My goal in life is to always be the best at everything I do. Despite not having a background in pageantry and being a bit older, I still had the confidence to win.”
The moment came and Felix won the 2016 Miss U.S. Virgin Islands United States pageant. “I couldn’t believe it. I was just a young adult with no pageant experience, and I won,” she said. “This experience was what I needed to get the exposure and platform to fulfill my goals. My community came together, and we made it happen.”
After winning Miss U.S Virgin Islands United States, Felix continued to work toward her goals, educate her community, and focus on cultural diversity with her organization all while seeking opportunities that could propel her toward her ultimate goal of becoming a physician.
“I started doing research, and after having a conversation with my younger brother who is a crew chief in the Air Force Reserve, I searched for a recruiter in the Hampton area. And before I knew it, I was looking at opportunities in the USAFR.”
Felix did her research and narrowed down her options. Finally, she decided on a job as an aeromedical evacuation technician. She researched bases with open positions and decided on the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at the 459th Air Refueling Wing.
“After speaking with my brother and getting his experience and doing my own research, I learned that the Air Force Reserve was the way to go for me,” she said. “Becoming an Air Force Reserve medic is a gateway for me to develop into a healthcare professional where I’ll be able to best serve the people and be an inspiration to others.”
Felix hopes to be able to use her new career in the USAFR to further advance her career and goals.
“I am confident I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my life, and I only hope to continue to grow into my purpose,” she said. “I feel very blessed to be a part of this experience. I believe it is affirmation that I am supposed to be here. I want people to know that whatever opportunities the universe presents you with, don’t be scared to take it. Take every opportunity.”