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81st TRW | The pursuit of opportunity

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenten Walters
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Native to the vibrant city of Lagos, Nigeria, one migrant found himself selected for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program.

“My story is similar to every immigrant coming to the U.S., and that's for better opportunities,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Oluwasegun Faleye, 81st Comptroller Squadron financial analysis flight deputy commander. “I was 15 when I graduated high school and my parents wanted me to stay in school, but I was too young for college, so I moved to Ontario, Canada for A levels. This served as a kind of bridge to taking university classes.”

After one year of taking A levels, a standardized British exam used to qualify for universities, Faleye’s father moved him from Canada to West Virginia to attend West Virginia University.

“My first impression of the school was that it was a white-dominated community,” said Faleye. “That was a big culture shock because I'm someone coming from Nigeria and even in Canada, I still lived amongst the convenience of my people. West Virginia was a different experience because it took me out of my safe space. I was in boarding school before, but this was way more than boarding school. It was actively trying to connect with people from everywhere in the world.”

In 2016, Faleye attended George Mason University where he got his master’s degree in accounting and a certificate in forensic accounting.

“Forensic accounting is something I have been really interested in doing and because I got that specific certificate, I was looking to work for the FBI, CIA, or another three letter agency,” said Faleye. “But unfortunately, as an immigrant, I did not have the security clearance.”

Faleye recalled advice he received from an Air Force veteran in his master’s program which could help him reach his desired career goal and work for a three letter agency. That's when Faleye started the paperwork to enlist in the Air Force. While he was waiting to ship off to basic training, Faleye took on a series of different jobs to obtain as much exposure to various fields as he could.

“At this point, I knew what I wanted but I wanted to get a glimpse of other people’s experiences,” said Faleye.

In December 2018, Faleye shipped off to basic military training.

“I remember I got a lot of comments in basic training because my MTIs at the time wondered why someone with a master’s degree was going to enlist. It ended with the same reply of, ‘I am not a citizen,’” said Faleye. “I had a specific purpose. I was going to do my four years, get out and go join the FBI, but after having a lot of conversations with my enlisted mates about commissioning, I decided this was a good opportunity for me.”

When Faleye got to his first duty station at Hurlburt Field, Florida, he made it known to his chain of command the path he was interested in taking. They were able to provide him resources and leadership opportunities. Through all the emails and conversations with his leadership, Faleye heard about the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program which allows senior enlisted leaders to choose exemplary Airmen to attend Officer Training School.

“If there was ever any time to over-achieve, I feel like applying for that program was one of them,” said Faleye. “On November 2020, we were called up to the Wing Commander’s conference room and it was supposed to be a Commander’s Call with just the 81st CPTS squadron. Showing up on Zoom was the wing commander, my commander and Chief Bass, who basically gave me the update that I was picked to commission into the Air Force. It was both a speechless moment and a confounding experience.”

Faleye attributes this moment to an accumulation of his life experiences and his efforts.

“The journey isn't over yet. I'm still going to find my way back to the FBI, just taking a little detour,” said Faleye.