Pacific Islander immigrant working on the frontlines

WETM Special Reports

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — May is Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. It’s a time people recognize the contributions, achievements and influences that Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans have made throughout history.

One frontline worker at Arnot Health immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1989.

Before working at Arnot, Noemi Bentley used to work at General Electric—working with hospital equipment and other supplies. Bentley met her husband while working at the company.

Before becoming a laboratory supervisor, Bentley wanted to be a doctor.

“My dad said it’s the norm over there,” Bentley said. “‘You can have two degrees. If whatever happens, you already have your pre-med and bachelor’s degree.’ So I took med tech.”

While in the Philippines, Bentley’s neighbor owned a lab where she worked and gained experience. Her next job was working at a pharmacy. In 1986, GE transferred Noemi’s husband to Canada where they lived for three years before moving to New York.

“When it comes to cultural differences, I can say that I have actually acclimated to the American way of life,” Bentley said.

Bentley has been working for Arnot Health for 21 years. She told 18 News that her family is still living in the Philippines.

“My mom, she is still there. She doesn’t like to fly,” Bentley said. “She is working in the pharmacy right now and my dad is a lawyer.”

While working at Arnot, Noemi said she enjoys helping others learn and grow.

“I think I’m making a difference,” Bentley said. “I’ve always wanted to teach. As part of my job now, I help train people.”

When Noemi isn’t working, she is spreading positivity in the community with her smile and personality. She also spends time with her two children—one son who is in the military, and one daughter who is in the pharmaceutical field.

“To everyone: you are frontliners or out there still serving the community and doing their best and helping,” Bentley said. “I wanted to say thank you to all of them because they know it’s kind of rough, knowing that you have to follow the guidelines even when you get home.”

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