Gladiators reach out to local high school students

  • Published
  • By Samantha Mathison
  • 960th Cyberspace Wing

Reserve Citizen Airmen in the 960th Cyberspace Wing visited students in the Judson High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in Converse, Texas, as part of a diversity and inclusion community outreach initiative, May 19.

Approximately 89 students attending in-person and virtually interacted with 16 cyberspace technicians with various backgrounds and experiences.

Retired Lt. Col. Mark Hiatt, Judson High School senior aerospace science instructor, invited members of the wing to speak due to an interest in cyberspace amongst the students.

“I believe the kids are going to get an understanding of the different types of career fields within cyber,” Hiatt said. “My hopes are these students will hear and see a different perspective of all the different jobs and demographics within the Air Force.”

Capt. Brandon Kyle, 50th Network Warfare Squadron operations flight commander, helped plan the event as part of a diversity and inclusion initiative within the wing.

“We’re just here to bolster their interest in not only the Air Force Reserve, but for the active-duty side, as well,” Kyle said. “We want to give them some encouragement and direction on where they may want to go in their next steps in life.”

Kyle said that one of the reasons he joined the Air Force was because he talked with someone who had a similar background, which was why he felt it was important to give these students exposure to various cyberspace professionals.

“Diversity and inclusion is important across the Air Force as a whole,” he said. “If we can’t bring different walks of life and different demographics in, we can’t have a force that’s going to really win in battle.”

According to Kyle, speaking with cyberspace professionals also has the added benefit of raising awareness in online safety.

He said they can teach kids at a young age the importance of operating in cyberspace safely and, as a result, set up the U.S. as a whole for a better future.

Senior Master Sgt. Jamie Poston, 426th Network Warfare Squadron platform development superintendent, was also in attendance and said that cyberspace is becoming more relevant in current and future battlefields, so it’s important to raise interest in cyber-related jobs in younger generations.

“The world is going to a more digital way of doing things,” Poston said. “Children who are interested in cyber and who are growing up in that realm better understand how it works, which prepares them for a future that some of us older people in the military may not expect.”

The benefits of reaching out and engaging with students are two-fold, according to Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Howard, 960th CW acting command chief, and 960th Cyberspace Operations Group superintendent.

“This gave our Airmen a chance to interact with the community,” Howard said. “It helped to reaffirm some of the reasons why our Airmen joined; it helps them find that sense of purpose and also to give back to the community.

“The other piece is the local community can know exactly what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and see that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of heart and intelligence that sits in these uniforms. So this is their opportunity to ask questions, provide some development, and gain a greater understanding of the Air Force and the military as a whole.”

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