Trillitye Paullin, Ph.D.
Doctoral Degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology
Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran
Instead of a legacy, my family passed down generations of physical and sexual abuse. I wanted more for my children than hospitals, foster homes, and courthouses. Even after my mother moved us safely away, I was fourteen and working a full-time job to help pay for the bills. I was burdened with the responsibilities of adulthood just as I had begun to enjoy being a kid. I dreamed of a day when I could provide unity, support, and stability for my family. Throughout my adolescent years, I often thought about my future. I decided the only way to achieve my dreams was to continue my education beyond high school and to surround myself with highly successful and motivated individuals. The means to accomplish this occurred during my last semester of high school when an Army National Guard recruiter visited my school. At only seventeen, I enlisted in the National Guard, and I am proud to say that I am still serving today.
At nineteen years old, I deployed to Iraq. I was faced with the harsh realization that the country to which I was deployed did not share the freedoms that I had experienced in my life. Consequently, I witnessed true adversity as I was thrust into a world where poverty, hunger, and rampant disease were a part of everyday life.
Being one of the few women in the country to serve in the military has proven to be an integral part of my identity. I discovered that the abuse inflicted upon me as a child does not define the woman I am today. I have overcome my past and will continue to make a difference in the lives of others. The military has given me the strength to shed the yoke of abuse and focus on the amazing career and philanthropic opportunities that await.
My passion as a Molecular Biologist and mother of two led to me founding Free to Feed, Inc. F2F creates science-based content for allergen-free breastfeeding and is developing products to empower parents through infant allergies. We have patented the technology for mothers to analyze their breast milk for allergen proteins. This endeavor is supported by my Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from Minot State University.
In addition to my professional civilian career, I am presently serving my 14th year in the Army National Guard and I am a proud Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran. Like many Veterans, I felt the need to continue service in my community, which led me to The Mission Continues (TMC). TMC is a nation-wide non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together veterans and civilians to solve challenging issues in communities through service projects. I served as a volunteer for the Tampa Platoon for three years and then focused on bringing TMC to Boise. After years of applying, I became the Boise 1st Platoon Leader and officially kicked off the program in November 2018 with a mission focused on improving youth education in the Treasure Valley.
TMC Boise 1st Platoon’s first event was held on November 17, 2018 at the Nampa Salvation Army Community Family Shelter. Over 50 volunteers renovated the building to include creating an education center, pouring an ADA compliant wheelchair accessible ramp, re-mulching the entire playground, and improving fire safety exits. That was only the beginning!
Over the past year, I have led the Platoon to complete over 20 service projects across the Treasure Valley coordinated with hundreds of volunteers. This incredible initiative completely renovated the Nampa Salvation Army Gymnasium and after school program with over 125 volunteers, built the Central Elementary School Community Garden, created the Union High School outdoor classroom, and refurbished McMillan’s Elementary School baseball field, just to highlight a few. Hundreds of veterans, their families, and supporters have joined forces with businesses like Home Depot, Starbucks, CarMax, Brookdale, and Darigold to make a tangible impact on youth education here in the Boise area. We have also supported other local non-profits such as United Way, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Operation Grateful Hearts by providing valuable expertise and manpower to their events.
Lighting the path for others illuminates our own journey. Every action that I take is in service to others which has created amazing opportunities for my family and those around us. The military has given me a platform to serve my country. Free to Feed was created to solve a problem that my family faced so others no longer must struggle through that pain. Building The Mission Continues Platoon in the Treasure Valley has made an enormous impact on the veteran and youth community. Empowering my employees and peers at Darigold builds a stronger culture and workforce.
These are a few examples of how being service minded has created influence all around me. This was largely instilled upon me during my time in the Army. A community is only as strong as its weakest individual points, so I focus on improvement for those areas. Focused effort on items, such as a lack of accurate information in the allergy space or a shortage of resources for our school systems, creates tangible change.
After I returned from overseas, I made it my mission to take full advantage of the freedom afforded to me. This includes building a better world for the generations after me, such as my two young daughters. I strive to build a company that will empower women who want to continue breastfeeding. I strive to build a non-profit chapter that will thrive and provide service opportunities for decades to come. I strive to make real impact as a department manager to improve systems for those who will take my place.