KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Second Air Force held their fifth annual Pathways to Blue event at Keesler Air Force Base, where more than 250 Air Force ROTC cadets and enlisted members attended to learn about different officer career fields, April 5-6.
Throughout the event, cadets and Airmen pursuing commissioning programs learn about job opportunities, tour and fly in different aircraft as well as sit down with officers for one-on-one mentorship.
“It is all about opening up to our ROTC cadets and some of our enlisted who are hoping to go to Officer Training School,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, 2nd Air Force commander.
The event aims to help communicate the importance of building future diverse leaders in the Air Force who will bring innovative solutions to complex problems and help us create the Air Force we need.
“As one enters the Air Force, how does one know all of the different things that exist there and which one do you really want to do?” Leahy said. “Because, in the end, if we allow people to do things that are really important to them, that truly speak to their core and what they want to do with their life, they will do it well and they will do it for long periods of time.”
The event started off with welcoming remarks from Col. Todd Weyerstrass, 2nd Air Force vice commander, and then transitioned to the flight line where there were static displays and incentive flights performed.
“Before this event I would have never been able to get on a base, spend the night and talk to officers,” said Deja Rayford, Jackson State University Air Force ROTC cadet. “The biggest thing for me was being able to talk to people in the Air Force and see what life is like in the Air Force.”
Leahy commented on how diversity opens the door for creative solutions to complex problems and provides the Air Force a competitive edge in air and space.
“With the shared immersions and experiences of the 60 mentors during the two-day event, the cadets will better understand how trust among diverse Airmen is the foundation upon which effective teams are built,” Leahy said.
The event has been a success over the years and has grown since it started in 2015 with only 98 attendees.
“Cadets can definitely gain a lot from the program perspective of various officer mentors actually performing the missions in today's' Air Force,” Leahy said. “We want cadets to leave the event knowing we have armed them with key information needed to decide which career path they will be best suited for, reinforce how our operational capabilities are enhanced by diversity and inclusion as well as give them many opportunities to learn and ask questions to best prepare them for future success in today’s Air Force.”