Ivy-Leaguer seeks adventure in Reserve

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kelly Goonan
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

When asked what he had accomplished last summer, SSgt. Jose Gutierrez said he traveled to Ecuador to conduct his independent research project for his studies at Yale University. The bioenvironmental technician -- assigned to the 439th Aerospace Medicine Squadron -- downplayed the significance of his multi-pursuit life.


“I conducted research that examines factors associated with growth progress in pediatric patients that have completed a nutrition supplement program,” he said.


The clinic where he studied, Futuro Valdivia, is planning to use his data and results in order to re-appeal for funding for future endeavors with the Downs Fellowship, which supports graduate and professional Yale students who undertake health-related research primarily in low- and middle-income countries.


It provides opportunities for challenging experiences abroad as Fellows create and improvise in the face of unforeseen events, acquiring new perspectives on their responsibilities and capabilities as professionals.


“The families participating in the study were so warm and accepting, and it is easy to feel a raw, emotional mix of happiness and heartbreak when hearing their experiences and desires to provide their child with a healthy upbringing,” SSgt. Gutierrez said. “It reminds me that there’s still a lot of work to be done in global health, and am excited that I am able to contribute to this knowledge as a nurse through research.”


As a full time student at Yale and an Air Force Reservist at Westover, SSgt. Gutierrez manages a busy schedule with a knack at working it to his advantage -- the innate ability to balance his civilian career decisions with his military career.


“I work as a research clinician for a bariatric study and also as a registered nurse in an infectious diseases clinic. The military has enhanced my civilian career by helping me develop teamwork skills in an environment where adaptation is unexpected events to key,” he said. As a bioenvironmental technician, his military job has enabled him to investigate how a patient’s environment, occupation and other activities can affect their health.


“This perspective of what can cause ailments and what can be done to reverse those affects is so valuable,” he said.


“Why did I enlist? In all honesty, I wanted an adventure.” He said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life yet, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to commit to a life of monotony and predictable routine.” As for the future, SSgt. Gutierrez hopes to begin a PhD program after his current master’s program ends and eventually pursue a commission as a registered nurse in the reserve upon completion of his schooling.


SSgt. Gutierrez was chosen to represent the Air Force Reserve in Futures magazine. It features service members who go above and beyond the call and is distributed to high school guidance counselors to shed light on otherwise unknown military possibilities.