Endeavor Voices: What Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Means to Us

Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is a time to remember and honor the Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals who have trail blazed the way for all – past and present. Our diversity makes us stronger as a company, country and world. Thank you to all Endeavor people who have shared their stories and perspectives on AAPI History – we certainly have a lot to celebrate!

Read below on what AAPI Heritage Month means to us:

Hemal Kataria, FO, ATL

“I started my airline journey in 2018 with Endeavor Air. I am proud of my Indian Heritage. It is a reflection of who I am and allows me to empower through reflecting and increasing awareness, especially for the younger generations. I was exposed to aviation at a young age by my parents who strongly believe representation is an inspiration, just as seeing is believing. Anything is possible. I am also proud to represent Endeavor Air and the Delta brand as an Asian American pilot.”

Hilario Albesa, FA, LGA

“Being an essential Endeavor Air FA, AAPI Month is an inspiration for me to always be resilient yet successful and productive. And I am hopeful that there’s always “ light” at the end of the tunnel especially for the continuous recovery of our aviation industry.”

Leslie Diaz, FA Ground Instructor, HDQ

“I am a first-generation Asian American. My parents immigrated to America from the Philippines in the 80s. They gave up a lot to give my sister and I a better life and I am forever grateful for their unconditional love. My family and I embrace our Filipino culture by speaking the language, eating the foods, and returning back home every year.”

Jeffrey Choi, FO, JFK

“My parents immigrated to the United States in 1980 to seek better opportunities for themselves and for their children. While I was born in the U.S. a few years later, the idea that I could be an airline pilot in this country never crossed my mind when I was growing up, simply because I had not ever seen an Asian airline pilot. Representation matters. It is an honor to be a pilot for Endeavor Air and a representative of the AAPI community. I am happy that my daughter will grow up knowing that a career in aviation is a possibility should she choose to pursue it.”

Marissa Laursen, FA, ATL

“As the first generation in my family that first came here in this country is an honor.  I started officially flying with then Pinnacle Airlines on November 6th of 2003.  If my memory serves me correctly, at that time, there were only 3 of us Filipinos in the whole company back then.  Ann, Gloria and myself.  I dug a little bit of the history of Asian who first came here and it stated that the first Asian documented to come here in the States was a filipino in 1587. Being a flight attendant was my lifelong dream back in the Philippines. I actually applied with Cathay Pacific when I was 18 years old but was short by 1/4 of an inch in height:). Most Asian culture has one in common: service. That’s why, being in Aviation was perfect for me. Through me, I was able to petition my parents where there are now 2 nurses and one physical therapist that came out of that migration. Since 1984, I can honestly say that I was afforded of every opportunities in this great country. Especially Kathleen De Cicco for believing in me and hiring me.”

Lia Ocampo, FA, JFK

“’Where are you originally from?’ When customers ask me this question, my response has always been, “My accent is from the Philippines.” Some of them told me that their doctor, their nurse, and their former teacher are Filipino.  According to history, “The first Asians documented in the Americas arrived in 1587 when Filipinos landed in California from 1898 to 1946.” I am a proud Asian and proud Filipino American. I am grateful for the opportunity to live in this country after working for many years with the U.S. Government. I work hard to thrive.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a celebration of our heritage while recognizing our contributions, achievements, and influence in American society. Thanks to Endeavor Air for celebrating our heritage, recognizing our achievements, and promoting diversity in the workplace.

I believe that our heritage shapes us, but humanity defines us. In celebration of the AAPI Heritage Month, I hope that the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes stop. Let us not judge people with their background, skin color, accent, or physical deformities. We all have contributions in this world, a role to play in society, and capable of achieving no matter where we came from.” 

Chelsea Santos, AMT, IND

“I started the journey of my dreams with Endeavor Air in 2016. I was the first Bangladeshi-American airline pilot in the US and a pioneer in Drone operation in the North East. We all should be proud to know that at Endeavor Air individuals of all national and ethnic backgrounds are represented and given a chance to highlight their story.”

Shabab Qazi, Captain, NYC

“I started the journey of my dreams with Endeavor Air in 2016. I was the first Bangladeshi-American airline pilot in the US and a pioneer in Drone operation in the North East. We all should be proud to know that at Endeavor Air individuals of all national and ethnic backgrounds are represented and given a chance to highlight their story.”

Jen Xiong, Talent Acquisition Representative– Pilot Outreach

“Being a Hmong American, I am proud that AAPI heritage month is being recognized and celebrated nationally. With my background I feel that every day I honor my heritage through Hmong traditions, Hmong food, and Hmong celebrations. I also appreciate many other Asian Pacific islander cultures around me, recognizing we are all different.

This is a photo of my Hmong wedding in November 2019. Wearing a traditional Hmong outfit that was given as a gift from my husband’s family. That day we celebrated our marriage and the union of two families. A Hmong cultural marriage is the celebration in which the groom pays a dowry for the bride and becomes a part of her husband’s family.”

Carol Williams, Administrative Assistant MX, RDU

“I am a Korean American. I’m very proud of the accomplishments my family has made. I want to honor my Uncle Kim Swoo Guen. He was an architect from Seoul Korea. He was the architect behind the Seoul Olympic stadium as well as other huge buildings and structures in Korea. He passed away in the early 90’s but has left behind a University of Architecture as well as a museum of all his accomplishments. I am proud to keep his legend going and not allowing any challenges to stop me from accomplishing my goals. I am proud to be Korean American as well as a member of the Endeavor Air Team!”

Reza Kashani, Captain, ATL

“I am proud to be with Endeavor Air since 2016. Before EDV I served at Iran Air where I flew Boeing and Airbus aircraft for 13 years. I am a proud husband and father of two young children who all love to travel and see the world. It is wonderful to see Endeavor Air take proactive steps to highlight the diversity and each of our stories within our EDV family.”