Stories of Service: From Sri Lankan immigrant to American Airman

  • Published
  • By C. B. Arce
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

After spending her first 19 years of life in Sri Lanka, a Robins Air Force Base Airman never thought she would be where she is now – powering the world’s greatest Air Force.

Airman 1st Class Theja R. Ranasingha Randhunu Mudhiyanselage, a finance customer service specialist with the 78th Comptroller Squadron, shared her story on why becoming an American Airman became her calling.

Ranasingha moved to the United States in 2017 with her parents and older brother. Although she wanted to go to college at that time, she knew working had to be the priority.

“I didn’t even have time to think about going to college,” she said. “My uncle, who sponsored me and my family to come here, advised that my brother and I start working right away to save up for college. He was right.”

She worked various jobs but didn’t have the chance to finish college. She got married in 2019 and had a daughter in 2020, who is now three years old.

“My daughter was born with COVID, and I couldn’t believe the help and support we got from our government to make sure our baby was going to be okay,” she said. “At that time, I truly realized the rights and freedom we have in this country. I want that to stay the same forever, so here I am today, serving our country to protect our freedom.”

That same year, her calling to serve was solidified when she saw a military member for the first time – when her brother was picked up by his Army recruiter.

“On that day, I really loved the way his dignity shined through his uniform,” she said. “That’s when I really knew I wanted to join the military to serve this country with pride.”

She joined the Air Force in November 2022 and arrived at her first assignment, here, this past April. After being here for less than two months, she said she already feels like she’s part of the Robins family.

“I was really nervous when I first got here because I didn’t know anyone,” she said. “From our squadron commander, the first sergeant, flight chief and supervisors, they made sure that I was doing good and treated me like their own family from the beginning.”

She shared her struggle in technical school as English is not her first language, but her third. She said that’s why having a smooth transition to Robins AFB is something she’ll always be grateful for.

“Right after class, I went straight to studying at my favorite boba shop and stayed there until they closed,” she said. “It took me a lot of hours because I had to go over all of my notes from class, then translate it to my native language, so I could fully understand the concepts.”

She graduated technical school in March and finished as a distinguished graduate.

“I was so proud of myself,” she said. “It was a lot of hard work, but very worth it in the end.”

Ranasingha shared her goal is to eventually become a medical doctor in the Air Force.

“I plan to work on my degree soon and then apply for an Air Force medical program that will help me achieve my goal of being a doctor one day,” she said. “I want to serve as an Air Force doctor and continue to do it as a volunteer doctor after I retire. I want to help people who can’t afford medical care, and I believe the Air Force can help make my dream come true one day.”