Citizen Airmen Reach Academic Goal

  • Published
  • 136th Airlift Wing

Twenty-nine 136th Airlift Wing Airmen walked the stage to receive their Community College of the Air Force degrees May 19, 2019, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.

Col. Christopher McGraw, 136 AW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. LaTasha Mitchell, 136 AW command chief, congratulated each Airman as they accepted their diplomas.

Lt. Col. Eric Patterson, Air National Guard Band of the Southwest commander, served as guest speaker.  Taking the stage, Patterson congratulated the recipients and elaborated on his insights for leadership, pushing past difficulties, and gratitude. Patterson began with stressing each member of the wing is a leader. 

“Every Airman, regardless of rank, is a leader,” said Patterson. “Leaders cast a critical eye on the past – what’s good, bad and ugly.  But they don’t allow their past to define their present or future. They come to terms with the past so they can have a different present and a different future.”

He explained the Air Force entrusts each Airman with responsibility that requires integrity, and that Airmen are expected to do what is right, even in contradiction of a direct, unlawful order.

“Leaders are alert, looking for opportunities and people they can partner with,” said Patterson. “Leaders envision a future that is better and plan accordingly. They define, shape, impact and influence to create a better future, living a life of integrity and excellence.”

He continued on to say that gratitude is vital to being a leader.

“Leaders say thank you, but not just with a card or text. Gratitude is being other-focused. It’s caring about others.  It’s about recognizing our own limitations and being thankful we have them because they bring us into community, into relationship with others.”

Patterson also emphasized that defining reality and expressing gratitude track with the Air Force core values.  Stressing that reality allows us to live a life of integrity and excellence.  And therefore, living with a servant attitude toward others enables us to become more grateful in our own lives.

“If you live by these two principles, if you look for opportunities to be authentic – to define reality, and if you remember to be other-focused, to be generous, to be kind, to say thank you, I promise, you’ll have a great Air Force career,” said Patterson.

The CCAF degree reflects growth in leadership as well as progression in the member’s career field.  Staff Sgt. Rebekah Staley, 136th Airlift Wing chapel assistant, expressed her pride and excitement on receiving her Associate in Applied Science degree in Intelligence Studies and Technology.

“It felt like I had reached a new level with the Air Force,” said Staley. “I do feel like it has made me a better leader. The requirements were a challenge that brought me out of my comfort zone and gave me a new level of confidence.”

Staley feels it is an accomplishment to have a degree from the military which she can take into her civilian career.

“I do have a degree already, but achieving a degree in my military career field is uniquely rewarding,” said Staley. “I feel that everyone should strive to get their CCAF even if they have a civilian degree. The Air Force is focused on leadership in education. There was a lot of work that went into that, and I feel it’s something to be proud of.”

The CCAF is the only federally-chartered college exclusively serving enlisted personnel. They are accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and award an Associate in Applied Science degree upon successful completion of the degree program designed for each member’s Air Force specialty.