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Airman balanced through bodybuilding

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, displays her back pose March 27, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Semaj is a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder competing in the figure category. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, displays her back pose March 27, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Semaj is a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder competing in the figure category. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, completes a drawer check March 27, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Semaj is responsible for ordering and ensuring parts availability for MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, completes a drawer check March 27, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Semaj is responsible for ordering and ensuring parts availability for MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, cooks her meals for the week April 2, 2017, at her home in Las Vegas. Semaj is able to compete successfully in women’s bodybuilding as a nationally qualified amateur while being the single mother of her six-year-old son Jamel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, cooks her meals for the week April 2, 2017, at her home in Las Vegas. Semaj is able to compete successfully in women’s bodybuilding as a nationally qualified amateur while being the single mother of her six-year-old son Jamel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, weights her meals April 2, 2017, at her home in Las Vegas. To maintain her strict diet, she weighs her meals to ensure her body Is in tip top shape to compete in women’s bodybuilding in the figure category. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, weights her meals April 2, 2017, at her home in Las Vegas. To maintain her strict diet, she weighs her meals to ensure her body Is in tip top shape to compete in women’s bodybuilding in the figure category. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, and her son Jamel, 6, play together April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is able to compete successfully in women’s bodybuilding as a nationally qualified amateur while being a single mother. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, and her son Jamel, 6, play together April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is able to compete successfully in women’s bodybuilding as a nationally qualified amateur while being a single mother. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, and her son Jamel, 6, strike a muscle pose April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj recently took second place in the 2017 National Physique Committee Southern Championships in the figure category. She is now a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder seeking her professional card. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, and her son Jamel, 6, strike a muscle pose April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj recently took second place in the 2017 National Physique Committee Southern Championships in the figure category. She is now a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder seeking her professional card. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Jamel, 6, shows off his muscles to his mother Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder in the figure category while also being a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, part-time student and single mother. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Jamel, 6, shows off his muscles to his mother Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder in the figure category while also being a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, part-time student and single mother. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, assists her son Jamel, 6, with situps April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder competing in the figure category. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, assists her son Jamel, 6, with situps April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder competing in the figure category. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman studies for her sports medicine degree while her son Jamel, 6, plays his game April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is currently seeking her bachelor’s degree. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman studies for her sports medicine degree while her son Jamel, 6, plays his game April 2, 2017, at their home in Las Vegas. Semaj is currently seeking her bachelor’s degree. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, checks and verifies serial numbers on an aircraft landing gear part March 27, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Semaj is a full-time military member, part-time student and full-time bodybuilder while being a single mother. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)
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Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, checks and verifies serial numbers on an aircraft landing gear part March 27, 2017, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Semaj is a full-time military member, part-time student and full-time bodybuilder while being a single mother. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christian Clausen)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --

As Semaj’s alarm screeches throughout her bedroom at 2:30 a.m. she awakes for her morning cardio session, checks on her six-year-old son Jamel and then laces up her running shoes.

Staff Sgt. Semaj, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron supply craftsman, does this every morning to keep her body in shape in preparation for her next bodybuilding event where she hopes to earn her professional status.

As the light thud of her feet sound on the harsh pavement she is focused and determined to get back on stage.

“Bodybuilding was on my bucket list,” the South Florida native said. “It’s been much more than that because the gym is my happy place and I consider the stage my home.”

During the preparation for her first competition in 2015, she found out her god brother had passed, but she attributes weight lifting to helping her cope.

“When he passed, I found that the gym helped calm me down and helped me find peace knowing he’s in a better place,” she said. “I also knew he wouldn’t want me to stop training.”

That year she placed second in the bikini category of the Lackland Bodybuilding Classic.

Since then she has moved up in category and, recently, competed in her first show as a figure competitor.

“I did pretty well in bikini, but I knew I would never turn pro in that category,” she said. “I had to lose so much weight and muscle and it was very discouraging. I made the jump to figure because I want to go professional and step on the Olympia stage.”

While the stage is familiar to Semaj, coming from a performing arts school background, she still experiences butterflies.

What are the judges thinking? Am I smiling right? Does the competitor next to me look better? All these things and more race through her mind in blissful chaos as she posed in front of the judges at the 2017 National Physique Committee Southern Championships in Orlando, Florida.

After whittling the competitors down, the announcer called her number. She had taken second place, which to her, was a significant achievement as it was her first competition in a new class.

“I was in shock,” she said. “My heart dropped and I had the biggest smile on my face, knowing all my hard work had paid off.”

Competing doesn’t just help her cope or inspire her confidence, it has also helped her become a leading role model in her family, despite any doubt she has encountered.

“My mom didn’t want me to get into bodybuilding at first,” she said. “As a kid growing up, she was my role model, but as I’ve started my journey she now looks up to me which is a great feeling.”

Semaj’s mother is proud of her as a nationally qualified amateur bodybuilder in the figure category, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, part-time student and, all the while, a full-time single mother.

“A lot of people tend to make excuses of why they can’t do certain things, especially getting fit,” she said. “I hear things like ‘I don’t think I can, the diet is too hard or I’m too busy.’ I like to get up on stage and show it can be done no matter what.”

Semaj says the excuses most people make only drives her to chase her dreams even more, but to do so she maintains a strict schedule.

After her morning cardio she gets Jamel ready for school and drops him off on her way to work where she manages, orders and tracks parts to keep MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reaper in the air.

Next she picks her son up from day care and takes him with her to complete another workout, this time with weights. Then it’s back home to do her own homework and help with his school work. Once the hard stuff and dinner are out of the way, they get to enjoy each other’s company by practicing Jamel’s football skills, reading and showing off their selfie photo talents.

“When I decided to start pursuing bodybuilding my first thoughts were how my little one was going to adapt because he’s my life,” she said. “We made the transition from fried foods to baked and we live an active lifestyle. When I go to the gym he plays in the child area and he’s adjusted well.”

Jamel will even join his mother during plyometric exercises and posing at home, giving her a run for her money on pushups.

Looking back before she joined the military, Semaj didn’t expect to accomplish all that she has to date.  

“I saw my friends and the paths they were going down and I didn’t want that for myself,” she said. “I knew I needed to get outside of Florida because with the mindset I had, I was going to either be in jail because of my friends or I’d still be living with my family.”

In 2007 she began talking to an Air Force recruiter between her college courses and working as a childcare provider.  Shortly after she started, in her words, “practically living at the office” and spending most of her days helping the recruiter sign more recruits before, eventually, picking her own Air Force specialty code.

“One day my recruiter’s best friend came into the office and was talking about her job in supply,” she said. “She just sold it well and that’s how I chose my job.”

Ten years later, she still doesn’t regret her choice. Being in the military has given her opportunities she didn’t expect and her appreciation for her job has never faltered.

“The saying goes ‘you can’t fly without supply’,” she said.

Looking forward, Semaj will continue to pursue her dreams of competing on the Olympia stage as a professional women’s bodybuilder while, also, chasing her education in sports medicine. No matter what, she will continue to inspire others and find balance for herself as a student, Airman and mother through her love of bodybuilding.

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🇺🇸🇨🇱This week 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) hosted Airmen to Airmen talks between the United States Air Force and the Fuerza Aérea De Chile. Chilean Air Force Major General Francisco Torres led the Chilean delegation in planning future multinational events between the two Air Forces.
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#EnduringPromise 🇺🇸🇬🇾U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army engineers have finished 4 construction projects in Guyana as part of the New Horizons Training Exercise 2019. Each year New Horizons Training Exercise is conducted in a different Partner Nation, this is the 3rd time it's been held in Guyana.
#DYK Since 2012, Colombian forces and the @SCGuard have worked and trained together as part of the The National Guard’s State Partnership Program. Watch this video on the South Carolina Air National Guard training and flying with the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana during exercise Relampago 4 earlier this month. #EnduringPromise
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The F-AIR COLOMBIA air show last month was a great example of the successful partnership between the United States Air Force and the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana. Check out our video highlighting this crucial partnership! #EnduringPromise #PromesaDuradera U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Embajada de los Estados Unidos Colombia South Carolina Air National Guard Air Force Thunderbirds
Hear firsthand the changes the #USNSComfort and crew are providing for those in need as a patient reflects on her experience aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship after receiving cataract surgery. #EnduringPromise #PromesaDuradera
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A construction update from our team at New Horizons Training Exercise! #EnduringPromise #PromesaDuradera
Admiral Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), recently paid a visit to the #USNSComfort in Costa Rica, which is on a 5-month, 12-nation humanitarian mission in the region. Check out the video below! #EnduringPromise #PromesaDuradera
#EnduringPromise Take a moment to check out all the work the New Horizons Guyana construction members have accomplished on across Linden and the village of Yarrowkabra.
Airmen from the U.S. and Colombia have worked closely this month during Exercise Relámpago! F-16s from the South Carolina Air National Guard have joined with Kfir fighters from the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana for this critical air-to-air exercise, which was also an opportunity to build relationships and strengthen ties between two partner nations. #Relámpago4 #EnduringPromise #Promesaduradera U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Embajada de los Estados Unidos Colombia
The South Carolina Air National Guard worked together with the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana for exercise Relámpago in Rionegro, Colombia. Check out this video overview on how the United States Air Force works together with partner nations. #EnduringPromise #PromesaDuradera #Relámpago4 U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Embajada de los Estados Unidos Colombia
🇺🇸🇨🇴🇩🇴🇪🇨🇸🇻🇬🇹🇵🇦🇵🇪Thank you to the 23 Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) students from Fuerza Aérea Colombiana, Fuerza Aérea de República Dominicana, Fuerza AÉREA Ecuatoriana, FUERZA AEREA EL SALVADOR, Fuerza Aerea Guatemalteca Senan Panamá and Fuerza Aérea del Perú for visiting 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base! IAAFA provides military education and training to military members of Partner Nations in the Americas. This training builds strong relationships with our Partner Nations military forces. #PromesaDuradera #EnduringPromise
Unsafe intercepts such as this are irresponsible. They increase the risk and potential for collisions. International airspace needs to be a place where everyone flies safely and within international norms.
After a successful F-AIR Colombia air show, the U.S. and the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana continued their work together during Exercise Relámpago! Airmen from the South Carolina Air National Guard worked closely with their counterparts in the Colombian Air Force and continued to share knowledge, exchange experiences and improve interoperability between partner nations. #Relámpago4 #EnduringPromise #PromesaDuradera U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Embajada de los Estados Unidos Colombia
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