tasha major: administrative specialist, semper fitAaron Pylinski | Community Writer
Tasha Major is the Administrative Specialist at Semper Fit and is a Marine Corps spouse from Arizona by way of Hawaii. Her story is not unlike other MCCS employees having started out in one section and ending up where she is now putting her business and administrative skills to good use. Halfway through her time on station, her dedication to her customers, co-workers, and newcomers shows through her work ethic and is reflective of MCCS’ want to serve those who serve and their families.
What gets you out of bed every morning to come in and work with Semper Fit?
Along with my business and retail background I also have a background working with nonprofits. I have a big heart for helping people. My motivation for working at Semper Fit is to make sure our warfighters have access to everything they need and that their families and the civilians who support them are taken care of.
With your job you get to work with a good mix of active duty, spouses, contractors, and civilians, what are your greatest rewards having this kind of clientele?
Everybody comes with a different story. The backgrounds are different with everything from my Japanese co-workers to the spouses who come from all over the world, and civilians who come out here. It’s hard coming out here as a civilian without the support of the military and the civilians who do come out here to make it without the military are some of the most adventurous people I know. It’s pretty cool hearing about everybody’s experiences and the people here are pretty driven in one way or another. It’s a neat mix.
What can you tell me about the team that you work with in Semper Fit?
There are a lot of really talented people here in Semper Fit. Some of them have tons of years of service and that is incredible. The people that I work with are so motivated like Veronica in Aquatics. She’s running the whole Aquatics program, two pools, and swim lessons. She’s driving the program forward plus she’s pushing the HITT program and fitness. She’s here all the time. Working with people like her is really inspiring and motivating. I also work with Mr. Brown, the Semper Fit Chief. He’s always listening to people’s concerns about the program and trying to constantly make it better. I have a lot of respect for that. There are definitely a lot of standout people that work at Semper Fit because they love pushing fitness and making sure our servicemembers and their families are taken care of. They’re making sure that we’re working towards the mission at Semper Fit.
How does working with these driven and talented people affect the way that you work?
It’s definitely more inspiring. If I had to come to work and be with a bunch of people who didn’t want to be here that could be a little demoralizing, but if everybody’s working towards the same thing, we accomplish so much more.
Since you do work for Semper Fit, what is your background and did it prepare you for the work you do now?
I’m an Admin Specialist, handling the business side of things. I have an MBA from University of Hawaii, Shidler Business School, which gave me some international business background. I was a manager for a major retailer in the states for several years where I managed millions of dollars in business and 35 employees. I get business and I get budgets and motivation and customer service. MCCS gets a bad rap about customer service, but we try to address every concern that people have. I’ve tried to tackle it as best as I can and I think that that comes from a lot of outstanding customer service being drilled into my head. And here it’s world class customer service. Athletically, I used to teach tae kwon do when I was a kid, and I captained a co-ed kickball team, but that’s more recreational and fun.
“There are definitely a lot of standout people that work at Semper Fit...”
How often do you get out and experience the other activities on and off base and what are your favorites?
My husband and I love Information Tours & Travel (IT&T) so much. They make it so easy to experience so many different things. My favorite has been the Yabusame Horseback Archery Festival. Most of the Shimane Prefecture trips have been really amazing because the folks in Shimane really love tourists, so they roll out all the stops. The horseback archery is amazing and they go during April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The competitors are dressed in full traditional costume, galloping down this narrow lane and they have to hit targets three times in a row with like a traditional bow and arrow. It’s incredible.
My husband and I try to do a lot of festival trips with IT&T. We getaway to Tokyo or Kyoto quite often. We love baseball games in Fukuoka. We haven’t been able to go to a Carp game yet, but the Hawks are pretty good and it’s exciting to see baseball here. Here in Iwakuni we have so many different experiences with the cultural adaptation program. You can go plant or pick rice or lotus roots or learn to read Japanese calligraphy or making the little name stamps. I also do taiko - the Japanese drums. There’s a small group off base and we’re not bad as far as Americans go. We have a Japanese Sensei and we’ve done a lot of performances. We’ve performed a lot of festivals. We’ve gone as far as Fukuyama and we performed in an arena once to what felt like a million people but it was probably a few hundred. I have my own drum now as well. It’s about as big as a wine barrel. It’s amazing. I have to put a lot of cushions on it when I practice, so I don’t bother the neighbors.
What do you like the most about MCAS Iwakuni and the city?
I like MCAS Iwakuni because I feel like we have a really important job here to support our country and I feel like we have a really good relationship with the locals, which is really special. I know in other parts of Japan they don’t have this good of a relationship and I feel sad because they’re missing out on a lot. Everywhere we’ve gone, people have been very welcoming, happy, friendly, and so willing to share their culture with us and so eager to learn more about the way we do things, which is a little bit humbling because you’re a representative of the U.S. here. I’m so happy that we get to do this in such a nice place.
What have been your best experiences working with MCCS so far?
My favorite thing about working with MCCS is talking to new arrivals about all the things that we can offer. We do the welcome aboard fair on Mondays, but everybody’s so information overloaded there that I know a lot of what we say doesn’t really stick, but I really love doing our Wednesday bus tour groups because we get to walk them through the gym and we get to tell them about everything that MCCS has to offer. Some people have never lived on a military installation before or some people just never really took the time to see what their base had to offer because it was easier wherever they were. In Iwakuni we’re isolated so people have to get everything from the base but they don’t know about the 40-plus fitness classes for free that we offer every week. We have all these beautiful new gyms that have the best equipment and we replace the equipment quite often. The classes that we have, maybe we don’t have enough instructors but we do the best we can with the instructors that we have. The instructors that do work for us are so dedicated and awesome and lively. I like to be able to welcome new arrivals and say, “I know you’re in a new place and it’s a little overwhelming and a little scary, but we’ve got all these things that are here for you.”
Looking forward what are some of your ambitions working at MCCS?
A military spouse can’t plan too far forward into the future. I have a good life here at MCAS Iwakuni and I want to make sure that other spouses and servicemembers as well as the people that MCCS supports continue to be supported and be able to make the best of their stay. I hope that I’m able to keep pushing the envelope and keep making sure that we’re doing our best to serve as our patrons.