Now through October 15, TSA proudly joins the nation in recognizing the many achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans who are inspiring others throughout the agency to succeed.
This is National Hispanic Heritage Month!
“Hispanic Heritage Month is about recognizing a vital community in the United States,” said Omayra Somarriba, a lead TSA officer at Miami International Airport and a social media specialist on detail with TSA’s Strategic Communications & Public Affairs (SCPA). “It is an opportunity to celebrate our contributions to our society, to be aware this country is diverse and to acknowledge this diversity makes us stronger and better as a nation.”
Somarriba joined TSA soon after the agency’s beginning in 2002. She was born and raised in Puerto Rico, an upbringing that has a strong impact on her to this day.
“My culture has a profound effect on my communication and interpersonal skills, especially with peers and passengers,” Somarriba said. “We are well-known to be one of the friendliest people you can ever encounter, so we don’t shy away from making others feel welcome.
“Teamwork for us is second nature, and that’s because we want to succeed as a group, not only individually. We are happy to acknowledge and celebrate our successes, but also the accomplishments of those around us.”
She believes effective communication is key in securing desired results.
“Our way of communicating calls for kindness, understanding and honesty, which tend to garner positive reactions even in difficult situations,” said Somarriba.
She said her parents are the strongest influences in her life, although working at Miami International Airport (MIA) was a significant turning point for her. That’s where she played a pivotal role in creating and developing the TSA MIA Communications team.
“TSA’s MIA leadership believed in my potential and pushed me to continue seeking professional growth opportunities,” Somarriba noted. “I never imagined I would get such incredible support from my peers at TSA.”
Throughout her TSA career, she has received several awards and recognitions including Employee of the Year for Innovation in Puerto Rico and Miami. She was also nominated for the Employee of the Year Award at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for her contributions to the Behavior Detection unit.
The initiatives she has taken during her TSA career propelled Somarriba to her current detail position as a social media specialist in SCPA.
“Having the opportunity to work alongside the fantastic and diverse group of professionals in the TSA Social Media Branch has been my primary inspiration to become a better professional. Everyone is so talented. Joining the Social Media team was the best thing that could happen to this Puerto Rican girl.”
She recently created a new video series, TSA Kids, which she called “an amazing experience.” TSA Social Media Manager Janis Burl shared Somarriba’s vision during an interview with NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt.
In her own words: Puerto Rican/Hispanic heritage
“Puerto Ricans are the most culturally rich mix of ethnicities you can ever find. Our Spanish, African and Taino roots combine to infuse our personalities with loyalty, commitment and passion, which is reflected in everything we do. We celebrate friendship, family and anything that fills our heart with joy and excitement.
“Music is like oxygen to us, and camaraderie is our soul food. Our mix of races brings together a level of resilience that helps us thrive. Puerto Ricans are energetic, friendly and optimistic. I’m very proud to be a Puerto Rican.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance to remember that every one of us in the Hispanic community has a place here and that it is possible for us to grow, be heard and make meaningful contributions to our society.
“I believe by acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month, my TSA colleagues are reminded of the representation in all areas. Seeing Hispanics being recognized for their accomplishments hopefully encourages others to follow their path without leaving behind their culture and traditions.”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs