Airman First Class Bailee Ann A. Darbasie’s writing is influenced by the drive to help others see how important and needed they are in today’s Air Force.
This is what earned her the Air Force’s 2019 New Writer of the Year.
“There are so many unsung heroes within the Air Force and I love being a part of the team that gets to highlight them and what they bring to the mission.” said Darbasie.
Now a photojournalist at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Darbasie joined the Air Force with no college experience and after having struggled as a student in high school.
“I didn’t know anything about the military or photojournalism and definitely didn’t have any type of passion or experience in writing or photography,” said Darbasie
When she started her technical training, she found herself surrounded by Airmen who already had experience in writing, and some with degrees in the field.
“It was really intimidating at first. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it through tech school,” said Darbasie.
Her writing and confidence quickly improved with the help of a mentor, her instructor at the Defense Information School, Peter Robertson.
“His teaching style just clicked for me and in a matter of a week or two I was like an all-star at it,” Darbasie said. “He genuinely made me feel like I was capable of being a great writer and I took that feeling and ran with it.”
“As a student; she matched her skill and confidence with hard work,” said Robertson. She constantly wanted to know if there were better ways of communicating through her writing.”
Darbasie said she doesn’t think she would have won this award or even have a passion for writing if it wasn’t for Robertson’s instruction.
Another mentor that Darbasie attributes her success to is Master Sgt. Heidi West, who served as her Public Affairs Superintendent at Nellis Air Force Base.
“She recognized my passion for writing as soon as I got here and worked hard to help it grow and develop my skills,” said Darbasie.
West said she’s an Airman to watch in the future because when she writes, people read and respond.
“Hopefully she will continue to grow as a writer and force her peers to keep pace,” said West.
Airmen who want to be considered for New Writer of the Year submit a portfolio of work that demonstrates a range of skills, like attention to detail and the ability to draw the reader in through emotional connection.
“It’s a difficult category to win, especially for Airmen with little more than a year’s experience in writing,” said West.
“I take a lot of pride in my writing, and to see all of my hard work and passion come together into something tangible like this award feels fulfilling,” said Darbasie. “I’m really honored that someone felt my work deserved this award.”