May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which pays tribute to the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and are instrumental in its future success.
Born in Olongapo City, Philippines, Larahfae “Fae” Santos moved to the United States when she was eight years old. Here, she was raised in San Diego, California, where she learned to read, write, and speak in English via English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in school.
At twenty years old, she joined the military, and before coming to NOAA in 2017, worked as a navigator and administrative clerk for the U.S. Navy.
As NOAA celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we spoke with Fae to learn more about her story.
What is your current role at NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS)?
I recently transferred from NESDIS headquarters to its Office of Satellite Ground Services (OSGS), where I am the Administrative Officer.
In my new role, I am actively seeking ways to improve hiring government employees within OSGS. I work directly with the Director, Deputy, and Hiring Managers to ensure all hiring policies are adequate and completed in a timely manner.
What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month reminds me of my home in the Philippines. Since moving from the Philippines at such a young age, I barely remember the culture.
I attend events with my family to learn more about my background, such as a dance called Tinikling, which was performed by rice farmers to catch and prevent the Tikling birds from stealing ripe rice grains from the fields. My family also taught me the true core values of Filipinos, which are fellowship, respect, and acceptance. Filipinos always display a warm and hospitable demeanor.
What would you say was your proudest moment during your time at NOAA?
The proudest moment in my career at NOAA was when I became a Federal Employee within NESDIS. After leaving the Navy, my ultimate goal was to become a Federal Employee, which I achieved within the first year of transitioning out of the military.
What motivates you, and have you had any particular role models in your life?
My motivation comes from my mother, who brought me to the United States on her own from the Philippines. Her dedication and sacrifice to give her family a better life motivates me on a daily basis. My ultimate goal is to take care of her and make sure her sacrifice does not go in vain.
Do you have any words of advice for anyone seeking to pursue a similar career?
A piece of advice that someone told me after getting out of the military is that everything happens for a reason. Do not give up on your goals even though they might be hard to achieve. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help, as you will be surprised by the outcome.
Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy outside of work?
When I am not working, I love to hike with my dog, go shopping, and spend time with my family. I also love to travel to different countries to learn about their cultures.