AAPI Spotlight: Nga “Cinnamon” Merritt

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s note: As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Month at Hill Air Force Base, we are featuring some of Team Hill’s military and federal service employees through spotlight articles.

Meet Nga “Cinnamon” Merritt, a legal assistant with the 75th Air Base Wing Legal Assistance Office.

Merritt, a Vietnamese American who calls Waco, Texas, home, is a certified paralegal specialist. She manages the legal office and provides clients with information about various legal services. Her job, however, is much more than making appointments and managing schedules and paperwork.

“Everyone is struggling in some way and our office can help put someone at ease during difficult times,” she said. “It is nice to hear the sigh of relief when I schedule an appointment or when I’m able to give additional resources that can help them on their journey to find answers they seek.”

She enjoys working as a federal civilian because it allows her the opportunity “to make small impacts in people’s lives.”

Merritt has worked at many different legal offices, traveling the country as the spouse of an active-duty servicemember. She has enjoyed the opportunities that living in many different places has provided.

“Moving state to state was an eye opener with different cultures and traditions to absorb,” she said. “We were stationed in Korea for a couple of years, and I really enjoyed learning of their culture and traditions.”

She loves the AAPI observance because it gives her an opportunity to share her culture, especially the food, which she says is always a great way to bring people together.

Merritt is the third of four children in her family.  Her parents migrated the United States from Vietnam before she was born. In 1975, on the boat during their voyage to America, her mom gave birth to her oldest sister. She has great admiration for her sister, who did so much for the family.  

“It’s an unspoken rule that a torch is given to the first born to help the family survive,” she said. “She was given the responsibility of translating important documents and at appointment for our parents at a young age. She was tasked to care for us while my immigrant parents worked odd jobs to make ends meet, while studying to become naturalized citizens.”

When she’s not at work, Merritt enjoys being the “passenger princess” during long scenic drives, window shopping in antique stores, woodworking and just relaxing in the sun, enjoying nice food and drinks.