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Change provides new opportunities

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

1st Lt. Mary Joanne Browning, 49th Medical Group registered nurse, checks the vision of Airman 1st Class Marcus Pyle, 49th MDG technician, May 6, 2019, at the Medical Clinic on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Browning has been working as a registered nurse at the medical clinic for three years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

The 49th Medical Group nurses and medical technicians pose for a group photo, May 8, 2019, outside the medical clinic on Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The nurses and technicians celebrated Nurse’s Week, May 6-10, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Autumn Vogt)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

In her youth, she grew up less than a mile away from the beach. Her tan hands were often filled with fresh fruit she picked from her family’s yard. The smell of the ocean breeze and the sounds of waves that once filled her senses are gone.

Moving to America was not easy for her at first. The dialect she once spoke seemed to be gone, and she was no longer able to see her family everyday as she once had.

Soon, 1st Lt. Mary Joanne Browning, 49th Medical Group registered nurse, had a new family.

“Our friendly neighbors and my supportive husband made life easier,” said Browning. “The Alamogordo and Holloman community became our family’s home. I even chose this base as my first assignment. Funny as it is, there is actually a big Filipino population here. Once I got to know some of them, I felt like I was back at home again. I even met people that speak the same dialect as I speak.”

Getting into the groove of being a military spouse was also difficult for Browning. Her husband worked long hours during their first six months here and a family sickness soon caused her to execute a new plan for her future.

 “When I first got here from the Philippines, I didn’t know what my plans were,” said Browning. “Should I just be a spouse forever? When my son got an infection, we took him to the hospital and he was there for three days with a respiratory problem. It was really hard to function as a parent and as a mother without any medical knowledge. That’s when I started planning to get into the medical field.”

Browning was accepted into nursing school in 2012, only two years after coming to America. Two years later, she gained her RN degree, RN license and citizenship. She did not stop there. Her patriotism pushed her to join the commissioned ranks.

“I realized this country had done so much for me,” said Browning. “I got here in 2010 and since then the Air Force has been very helpful. My husband has a good career in the AF and I decided it’s time to pay it back. It feels good to be in the military and serve this community.”

Many can attest to the motivation that spills out of Browning but her biggest fan is the one at home. Her husband spoke highly of her motivation and how much she has accomplished over the time she has been here.

“She has one of those personalities where she sees it and she goes after it,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Browning, 49th Force Support Squadron career advisor, “She started working as a night cashier and one night she looked at me and said, ‘I want to be a nurse.’ before I even knew what was happening she already had a degree plan, was enrolled and started classes. She knocked it out of the park.”

Browning has a strong pride in what she does here at the 49th Medical Group Clinic and her job in the military provides her a sense of fulfillment.

“I just love working here,” said Browning. “I love being a military nurse. I love what I do, I feel very proud of being here. We’ve been at Holloman for nine years and I’ve been working in this clinic for three years and active duty for one year. Never in my career here did I feel left out or disregarded.”