Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass. --
Out of eight states Senior Airman Sara Kolinski from the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard, was chosen as the Air National Guard Region One Outstanding Airman of the Year for 2020.
“I'm very honored and humbled by being selected as the Region One OAY 2020 but I couldn’t have done it without all the amazing women and men that I serve with,” said Senior Airman Sara Kolinski, 104FW public affairs specialist. “Every single achievement I had for the year couldn’t have been accomplished without a group of others who were supporting me, or helping me, or mentoring me. It really is all about working together as a team to ensure the mission succeeds.”
Kolinski is a Massachusetts native and joined the MA ANG as a public affairs specialist right after graduating high school in July 2017.
“I wanted to do something that would give me a different experience and perspective on things than that of my peers, and I wanted to challenge myself,” said Kolinski. “The Air National Guard seemed like the perfect choice that would be challenging, would give me the chance to do something different, provide me with a multitude of opportunities, and would still give me the time to go to college and achieve my dreams outside of the military while encouraging them and helping me excel.”
As a public affairs specialist, Kolinski and other Airmen like her, are responsible for being the professional communicators for the Air Force. Several aspects go into being a full-fledged communicator which can include: capturing and creating both still and motion imagery products, writing a variety of journalistic pieces, managing and updating the official website and social media platforms, and being a media liaison, among a variety of other functions.
“My favorite part of being in public affairs has been the opportunities to see a little bit of everything the Air Force has to offer and having met so many unique people who each have their own story that I can help them share,” said Kolinski. “As an Airman, I have gotten to spend time with the Fire Department during live fire training, with the explosive ordnance disposal team on the range, and with leadership at important events.”
When Kolinski is not on duty as a public affairs specialist, she works as a patient care technician in the Baystate Noble Hospital emergency room and is working hard toward her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Westfield State University. Upon graduation this spring, she strives to get into physician assistant school.
“I keep a legitimate list of goals I am striving to achieve to ensure that every day I am becoming a better version of myself,” said Kolinski. “Currently my biggest goal I am striving toward after graduating from Westfield State University is getting into Physician Assistant School. Some other goals I am working toward include doing something worthy of a TED talk, stepping foot on all seven continents by the time I’m 35, learning sign language, and volunteering in a third world country, among many others.”
Kolinski credits being who she is today to her experience in the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
“The Air Force core values are integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do,” said Kolinski. “So many Airmen exemplify those attributes and being surrounded by people who strive to be their best, has motivated me as an individual to strive to be better. Apart from that, the opportunities I’ve had since enlisting have helped shape me as a leader, a communicator, and a team member. They have made me more resilient, courageous, and accepting, which are all traits that help me not only in public affairs, but in all aspects of my life.”
If there is one thing that Kolinski could pass on to others it would be to learn from your experience in any component of the Air Force.
“The truth is that the things that help you excel as an Airman, help you excel as a student, an employee, a boss, and as a civilian in general,” said Kolinski. “The military provides you with so many opportunities that everyone should take advantage of to help them be a better version of themselves.”