REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (March 27, 2023) – For the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center's Polonia Aristy, her successful career is proof that you can overcome a challenging beginning.
Aristy, an electrical fabrication technician for the Technical Integration Division in the Technology Development Directorate, deployed with the Army Reserve in 2022 as an aircraft technical inspector, supporting Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield.
Kuwait was a long way from the Bronx, New York, where Aristy grew up as the daughter of immigrants. Every summer, she visited her father's family in the Dominican Republic; those plane rides were where her love of aviation began.
“I was like, when I get older, I'm going into aviation, whether it be flying or fixing. I'm gonna get into aviation," Aristy said.
Life was not easy in the Bronx, Aristy said, and an aviation career was far from a sure thing.
"I grew up with parents relying on government assistance," she said. "I lived in poverty. I used to get my clothes from churches. In high school, everybody's like, 'Hey, you know you're not gonna make it out of here,' because of how we grew up."
Aristy set out to prove them wrong, enlisting in the Army and serving a deployment in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. When she transferred to the Army Reserve in 2019, she took her current position with an industry partner in support of AvMC. Her civilian and military careers dovetailed on her deployment as she was selected to train the Soldiers on maintaining the aircraft and following safety guidelines.
"It's important to be out there with the Soldiers because we can show them how things are supposed to be done the right way," she said. "When they first got to Kuwait, they didn't know how to do things the right way. Then you see them, months down the road, working on an aircraft, troubleshooting, and making repairs with confidence. Watching them learn and grow is cool."
Aristy's long-term goals include returning to New York and creating a nonprofit for young girls in the same situation as she was, as well as obtaining her private pilot license. She said that it was through the help of mentors in her life who reinforced that she could go out into the world and achieve her aviation dreams – and she wants to be that mentor for the next generation.
"I want to give them that opportunity and tell them, ‘If I can do it, you can do it too; don't take no for an answer.’"
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.