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Motivation: one Airman’s key to success

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Born and raised in West Africa, one Malmstrom Airman spent 20 years of his life there before coming to the United States.

“I had a good childhood growing up on the Ivory Coast,” said Airman 1st Class Tayorau Kablan, 341st Medical Support Squadron outpatient records technician. “We were not rich, but my mom made sure my siblings and I had everything we needed.”

At the age of six, Kablan’s parents got a divorce.

“My dad lived in the United States, and he spent his time traveling to different states,” Kablan said. “He would call and send me different gifts from places he visited.”

His dad came back to visit when he was 16 and then again when he was close to graduating high school.

“I knew who my dad was because we talked on the phone from time-to-time,” Kablan said. “My dad and I did not have the typical father-son relationship.”

After graduation, Kablan had dreams of living in the United States.

“It took two years for everything to be cleared for me to live here,” he said. “During the two years I was waiting, I went to school to major in finance, and begin to practice rapping on the side.”

In 2013, Kablan traveled to the United States and moved in with his father and step-mother, who were living in Maryland at the time. They later moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Kablan got a job as a cook at the Charlotte International Airport and begin going to a local community college to work on his finance degree.

“As a cook, it was hard to understand what people were trying to tell me because of the language barrier,” he said. “They would talk so fast without giving me a chance to respond. I felt so embarrassed because people would laugh at me. Through it all I remained positive and used it as motivation to get better."

At 22 Kablan got his own apartment, but eventually had to stop going to school because he wasn't making enough money. Tired of living paycheck to paycheck, Kablan went to see a Navy recruiter in December 2013.

“I went home that night and researched the different branches of the military,” he said. “I eventually decided I wanted to join the Air Force because I valued what they stood for.”

Kablan took a pre-ASVAB test and did well, but made a 40 on the real test, missing the cutoff score by 10 points.

“The test was hard for me, so that same day I went to the library to check out study materials,” he said. “The next time I took the test, I passed with a 74.”

Initially coming into the Air Force, Kablan wanted a job as security forces, but because he was not a citizen he signed up to go open general, which did not guarantee him a job before going to basic training. In November 2015 the recruiter called Kablan, and by Dec. 29th he left for basic training.

“My parents were really supportive of my decision to join the military,” Kablan said. “My grandfather was a World War II French Army veteran, so I looked at it as an opportunity to follow in his footsteps to serve. Any job that came my way I was going to be happy.”

During basic training, Kablan was given an opportunity to pick seven choices for a job he wanted, and later received his number one choice as an aerospace medical technician.

“My dad came to my basic training graduation wearing his African attire and crown,” he said. “I told him not to wear it, but I joked with my friends that he was the African king. To have my dad there for my graduation meant a lot."

After graduation, Kablan attended technical school at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“I got to the final part of technical school, I passed the written portion of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners, but failed the hands-on portion,” he said.

Kablan had to be re-classed, but while he waited for a job he was assigned to clean the dorms for three months.

“I was really disappointed in myself, and lost all hope,” Kablan said, but within a month of working details, he was placed as head of details.

“My main job was to make sure everyone else did their details for the day,” he said. “All the friends I had did not want to hang out with me anymore, so I begin to use my free time to teach myself how to vocal mix and make different beats for songs.”

Four months went by before Kablan was able to officially re-class into another job, granting him his first choice in jobs once again.

“My first choice was a medical records technician, and I was so happy when I found out I had gotten it,” Kablan said.

Kablan started technical school for his job in July, and the following month upon graduating received his citizenship.

“I spent a total of six months in technical school, but through it all it taught me to never give up,” he said. “It felt good to finally say I am an American citizen.”

Kablan has been stationed at Malmstrom for four months as a medical records technician, and according to Staff Sgt. Steven Gonzalez, 341st MDSS NCO in charge of patient administration, Kablan is always motivated and volunteers whenever needed.

“It is good to have him as an Airman, he keeps the office lighter,” Gonzalez said. “As his supervisor, I have to watch him to make sure he does not burn himself out (from doing too much).”

Kablan said his dad taught him to not allow people to make him upset, and always be open to learning new things, and Gonzalez agrees.

“For me I have traveled a lot and have visited many different cultures, and one of the main things I have learned is to keep an open mind,” Gonzales said. “Accept people for who they are, and not what you want them to be.

“My dad always taught me to never be afraid to talk,” he continued. “If I make a mistake I keep going and am open to criticism from others.”