Air Force Senior Airman Niketa Wilson, 90th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, is a full-time airman, mother and student, and she even has a part-time job at Subway.
For Wilson, her son, Daniel, and bodybuilding are what keep her going.
"I always wanted to do fitness competitions, but I just didn't make time, and I got pregnant with my son," Wilson said. "Then my mom moved here from Mississippi to help with Daniel, which enabled me to pick up some weights and start on my journey."
Wilson hired a personal trainer, and seven months after giving birth, she stepped on stage for her first competition. She placed third.
This journey didn't come without its challenges, though. Wilson's mother died in September 2017, and she made the tough decision to move her son.
"My mom was the primary caregiver for my son, and when she passed, I sent him to live with my family in Mississippi because of the cost of child care," Wilson said. "It really felt like I lost two people."
Wilson saw this as an opportunity to reinvent herself, increasing her focus on her work. She said her leadership ability made the transition back to work a lot smoother.
"My first sergeant and squadron supported me a lot, as well as my commander when she came to check on me," Wilson said. "When you have support like that, it makes the healing process more manageable.
Wilson's determination and resiliency did not go unnoticed by those in the workplace.
"Nikki is a go-getter," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Cole, 90th FSS fitness specialist. "She has a lot of energy and the ability to tackle both professional and personal goals. She truly is Superwoman."
Air Force Senior Airman Niketa Wilson, 90th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, is shown with her son, Daniel, on Jan. 11, 2018. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)
Wilson gradually is accomplishing the goals she has set for herself. She completed her Community College of the Air Force degree and is working to get her bachelor's degree in health science.
"The key to sticking with your goals is to write them down, have a visual for what you want to do and say them out loud," Wilson said. "If it's constantly on your mind, you're more inclined to pursue it, but you have to be consistent."
Glenn Garcia, 90th Medical Group outreach program manager, said that resiliency is the ability to adapt to challenges in life and learn from the event to move forward. He offered some ways for airmen to stay resilient.
Tips on Resiliency
"You can't change the fact that stressful things happen, but you can change how you respond to them," Garcia said. "Accepting help and support from those who care about you will help strengthen your resilience. Likewise, assisting other airmen in their time of need can have a positive impact on your outlook. Connect with others through sports or clubs, either in your squadron or the local community."
Wilson said she hopes to keep competing and become a professional bodybuilder one day.
"There are things you don't see coming, but it's your responsibility to pull yourself out of the hole and reach your full potential," Wilson said. "The moment you feel like quitting is usually the moment when you're about to achieve something great, and that's just the test that you have to push through."
Want to Know More About the Military?
Be sure to get the latest news about the U.S. military, as well as critical info about how to join and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to Military.com and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.