Seeing the world through a different lens

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jenay Randolph
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
“I was nervous and scared out of my mind, but I didn’t have time to think about those feelings. All I could focus on was going through door after door and shouting out the last four of my social,” said Senior Airman Tori Schultz, a photojournalist assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) Public Affairs (PA) office, when recalling her first day at Basic Military Training (BMT).

As an 18 year-old from the small city of Gillette, Wyoming, joining the Air Force in September of 2012 opened her eyes to a world unknown. Through her experience she has seen just that… A whole new world.

She was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, but from the age of five, she grew up in Gillette, Wyoming, where she played softball and ran track and field. Growing up, she always thought she would become an early childhood teacher like her mother or a physical therapist.

Nevertheless, life had an alternate plan for her that would lead her down a road more similar to her father’s.

“My father was a Marine for six years during the Desert Storm era, but he never really talked much about his life in the military,” explained Schultz. “He got out when my oldest brother was born to make a better life for the family at the time. So when I went into the recruiter’s office at 17 years old, I had no idea what to expect.”

However, the Air Force has allowed Schultz to experience something unique to most of her friends and family. Schultz was forced to open her mind up to the concept of diversity, which in turn made it possible for her to see life through a different lens.

As a photojournalist, Schultz meets hundreds of people from all over the world. She tells their stories and captures some of their life’s most priceless moments. With this, she realized that not everyone has the same upbringing or life experiences.

“The Air Force allowed me to gain an understanding of various cultures real quick,” said Schultz. “In BMT, I lived in close quarters with females from all over the world for two months. So I learned a lot.”

She learned a lot from her experiences with people of various cultures, and has taken the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her peers and new Air Force family to become a better individual.

When asked about Schultz, Terry Montrose, the deputy of public affairs assigned to 6th AMW PA, said “Tori has grown the most in the shortest amount of time. She has gained self confidence that has allowed her to be looked at as a leader and perform tasks that are above her rank of Senior Airman.”

Coming into the Air Force was not the initial plan for Schultz, but overall it has changed her life for the better. She was able to grow, gain self-confidence and have a better understanding of the world that surrounds her.