U.S. Air Force Capt. Margarita Balish, set to graduate from NPS’ National Security Affairs program, Dec. 15, is the recipient of two prestigious awards for the 2017 Fall Quarter, the Superior Service Award and the Air Force Association’s Award for Outstanding Air Force Student.
“I feel very honored for receiving the awards. I feel like I worked very hard, but I also know my classmates worked very hard. I'm very proud of all their accomplishments and I'm really excited to walk the stage this December with all of them,” said Balish. “I'd like to thank everybody that helped me along the way. I'm really grateful for that and I'm really grateful for everybody’s support.”
Balish, who not only served as Vice Chair of the NPS President’s Student Council, committed her time to broad range of efforts outside of her core studies.
“I got involved with the Foreign Area Officer Cultural Ambassador’s Program, so I got to work with a lot of international students and go to different social functions with them,” said Balish, referring to the unique Defense Resources Management Institute (DRMI) program that pairs FAOs with international military students to strengthen their understanding of the cultures they will potentially be working with. “I sponsored a major from the Azerbaijan military, which was a very enriching experience.
“It’s something that’s very important to me. I was born in Latvia and I immigrated to the United States when I was four-and-a-half years old. Since then, I have had so many wonderful opportunities to be able to pursue things that I would have never imagined pursuing in any other country,” she continued.
“I feel like I have a personal need to give back to the community, and to give back to my country. Since being at NPS, I've made it a point to get involved in the Monterey community and also with activities at NPS to help the school,” Balish added.
The Air Force officer’s next assignment will be at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, also in Monterey, where she'll pursue learning the Chinese language. She’ll then move on to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio working with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
“I feel like my experiences here have definitely prepared me for my next assignments because I've gotten a chance to work with so many different people from so many different backgrounds,” said Balish. “I feel like this has helped me practice my diplomatic skills and engage in cooperative efforts. In the future, when I do go overseas again and work with different International counterparts, I'll be better able to bridge those communication gaps and work towards common goals.”