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Services Airman gains valuable experience from 'Women in Aviation'

The Air Force Reserve Command's Human Resources Development Council emblem. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The Air Force Reserve Command's Human Resources Development Council emblem. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force Reservist Senior Airman Cindy Rojas has always been a go getter.

"My mom always reminds me about the time when I was eight and she asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be the big boss." After a quick smile, Airman Rojas reveals just ten years later, she became the big boss.

At the age of 18, Airman Rojas became the youngest general manager for a La Casita Restaurant, a chain of Mexican restaurants in the Colorado Springs, Colo., area. Even with this new responsibility at such a young age, she still felt she had not reached her full potential; she still wanted to be the big boss. That desire led her to the Air Force Reserve and to a position in the services career field.

"I am proud to be a part of an organization that takes pride in the task at hand," Airman Rojas, a Raton, N.M. native, said. "The 302nd Airlift Wing is my extended family and I feel strongly connected with its members."

That connection led her to join the wing's Human Resource Development Council, a group within the 302nd AW charged with personally and professionally developing a highly-skilled, motivated, enthusiastic and diverse workforce. HRDC helps to connect wing members, from the most junior in rank to the most seasoned officer, with a number of professional development opportunities each year. One of those opportunities included the Women in Aviation, International organization, which hosted its annual conference Feb. 25-27 in Orlando, Fla. Airman Rojas was one of the 302nd AW's conference attendees.

According to the nonprofit organization's website, www.wai.org, WAI provides networking, education, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for women and men who strive for challenging and fulfilling careers in both the aviation and aerospace industries.

During the three day WAI conference, Airman Rojas, and four other attendees from the 302nd AW, listened to keynote speakers from all aspects of the aviation industry, attended breakout sessions that dealt with a variety of topics, including impactful leadership and aviation milestones, as well as visited the more than 100 exhibits on display. The conference also gave Airmen like Rojas the opportunity to network with key members of the aviation industry, both military and civilian alike.

"Part of our HRDC mission is to develop our Airmen both professionally and personally," said Col. Bob Chapman, 302nd AW vice commander and HRDC chairman. "We are trying to positively impact them by investing in their careers and we believe having our Airmen attend these types of conferences can provide them with invaluable experience."
Colonel Chapman identified Airman Rojas as a prime example of a motivated AF Reservist.

"Here is an Airman who joined the Air Force Reserve straight out high school with the hope it would open up new opportunities for her," the colonel said. "This is an Airman who actively participates in programs such as HRDC without neglecting her career field, upgrade training or duties required by her job."

After attending WAI conference, Airman Rojas admitted she has only reached 50 percent of what she is capable of.

"Humans have the tendency to not like change or the unknown," she said. "However, any one of us can make our dreams reality and I am ready to make mine happen. WAI gave me the motivation and ambition that now fuels my career goals. I want to excel in every aspect that my career in the 302nd Services Flight provides and move up in the ranks to a supervisory position where I can mentor my fellow Airmen. One day, I can tell my mom that I have accomplished my goal and I have become the big boss, an Air Force chief master sergeant."

In a speech to her fellow Airmen at the 302nd Services Flight, Airman Rojas pointed to the WAI conference as being "extremely valuable" to her military career.

"I am motivated to attend Airman Leadership School and work towards my Community College of the Air Force degree, which will enhance my performance for my unit and further my education," she said. "The [WAI] conference showed me that anything I set my mind to do can be accomplished and that nothing is impossible."

To learn more about what HRDC can do for you, contact your unit's first sergeant.