Pathways to Success; Opening doors for today’s youth

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Do
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing

MacDill Air Force Base held a two-day “Pathways to Success” Symposium hosted by the 6th Air Refueling Wing Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Hearing from multiple leaders, including U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Lisa Craig, Air Force Recruiting deputy commander, Col. Adam Bingham, 6th ARW commander, April 22-23, 2024.

“We have to pour into our youth the same way someone poured into us,” explained Craig when speaking with community leaders. “It is important that they have the tools they need in life and that they know there are options out there for them.”

This event helped to expose youth and youth influencers to the various path’s students can take after high school. Connections with change agents and military leaders through talks and activities fostered meaningful dialogue around career decisions and its impact on the varying life paths our youth take.

“Just by having a conversation with these kids, we can remind them that ‘You can do that,’” said Bingham. “Whether they want to be an Air Force pilot, maintainer, public affairs, a defender, or just want to serve in any capacity. It is really an achievable goal, but it starts with inspiring them.”

The first day, 80 youth influencers and change agents learned about the benefit of choosing the military as a career pathway. Over 180 students from surrounding schools attended the second day of the symposium. 40 of those students had the opportunity to tour a KC-135 and speak with aviators.

“The purpose today was to help youth members make informed decisions, and youth influencers have informed conversations,” said Kishima Garcia, chief diversity and inclusion officer. “Today was to be able to share with those children some things to expect, some of the difficulties that come along, the roadblocks that may be existent, and the fact that we still make it through and we are successful. Stay on the path, take as many paths as you wish, but just do not quit.”

The students also had access to speak to military vendors and gain insight on different science, technology, engineering and mathematics career fields, as well as, operate some of the equipment provided by the vendors.