At just 19 years old, Hamna Zafar, a Maryland native from Pakistan, made a courageous choice to defy cultural norms and pursue her dreams in the United States Air Force.
The young Airman 1st Class, now assigned to the 377th Security Forces Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, escaped an arranged marriage with her cousin in Pakistan, opting instead to “live the American dream.”
Zafar’s journey took an unexpected turn in 2019 during what she believed was a routine family trip to Pakistan. To her surprise, it turned out to be her engagement ceremony, forced upon her by her parents. Faced with the prospect of an arranged marriage with her cousin, Humna decided to take matters into her own hands.
Refusing to relinquish control over her life, she orchestrated a daring escape, seeking refuge with a Navy recruiter before finding support from Claudia Barrera, a friend’s family whom she now lovingly calls mom.
With Barrera’s encouragement, Humna Zafar completed her associate degree, laying the foundation for a new chapter in her life.
In 2022, Humna enlisted in the US Air Force, assuming the role of a Security Defender. Her responsibilities include installation patrol, installation access control, and base defense alarm monitoring at Kirtland Air Force Base. The transition wasn’t without its challenges, as Zafar faced a cultural shock during training, navigating a world starkly different from the one she left behind.
Reflecting on her journey, Humna emphasizes the importance of breaking free from societal expectations. Despite the hurdles, her determination and commitment to her newfound role in the Air Force shine through.
However, the joy of her achievements is tinged with sadness as Zafar reveals her attempts to contact her family have gone unanswered, especially during pivotal moments like her graduation from basic training.
I wanted them to be proud of me for who I am and share that with them. I really wanted them to see that their daughter has so much potential in her.
Hamna Zafar’s story serves as a testament to resilience, courage, and the pursuit of one’s dreams, even in the face of familial and cultural expectations.