FORT HOOD, Texas (FOX 44) – May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The celebratory month was chosen due to the date May 7, 1843 – which is when the U.S. commemorated the immigration of the first Japanese citizens.

“I was the first person in my family to be born, and kind of experience the whole American thing,” 1st Lieutenant Soumya Sreerama said, a leader in the 2-12 CAV unit.

Sreerama’s parents immigrated from India to the United States a year before she was born. Throughout her life, she had a mixing of cultures – learning about American life while her parents still taught her about Hinduism and the Indian holidays.

“My mom, really, and both my parents truly made an effort to keep the culture alive in my family,” she told FOX 44 News. “So, you know, my parents are, my mom is a practicing Hindu. So everything she did culturally, and religious festivals and things, still happened.”

She grew up in a growing community of Indian families, so she says the village mindset was around her.

When it came to her decision to apply to West Point, she says her parents were surprised – but supportive.

“My dad, he was the one that kind of inspired me to go to West Point after he got over the initial first few shocks that, like, ‘Okay, this girl wants to do something a little bit different than everyone else.’ He was like, ‘Okay, so you want to do the Army thing? The best bet or the best option for you? The best version of the Army officer you can be is going to West Point.'”

Sreerama says she loves sharing her Indian culture with her troopers and co-workers, and says by talking about it, it gives others an idea of opening up about change.

“I think talking about that, and the ability to have a conversation, opens up the opportunity to be like, ‘Okay, are the block lives that we give, or the reasons we give people to have a day off, really fair throughout all different religions and cultures?,'” she said. “And I think that kind of prompts the question, and the formation is willing to adapt to that.”

Sreerama will be attending law school in the fall, and then return to her Army service once finished. She looks forward to her next challenge.