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Cadets learn about AF through Pathways to Blue

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- The third annual Pathways to Blue event, designed to help ROTC cadets make their Air Force career choices, was April 7-8, 2017.

The diversity and inclusion event, attended by more than 175 ROTC cadets from seven universities, is a 2nd Air Force initiative aimed to help build future leaders in the Air Force.

“I'm honored and privileged to have the opportunity to host this great event,” said Maj. Gen. Bob LaBrutta, the 2nd AF commander. “The 2nd AF mission is to train, develop and inspire the world’s premier Airmen to power the world's greatest Air Force. This program is important because our nation is a melting pot and in order for us to compete, we have to recruit the best of the best and ensure everyone understands there is a place in the U.S. Air Force for them.”

Throughout the event, the cadets will meet with officers from 36 different career fields ranging from cyber operators to remotely piloted aircraft sensor operators to learn firsthand what their jobs entail.

“This will broaden their awareness of various occupations that are in high demand, but often undermanned,” said 1st Lt. Christain Torres, the 2nd AF budget officer and Pathways to Blue project officer. “All of the venues are specifically designed for ROTC cadets and enlisted personnel to ask questions and achieve a better understanding of the knowledge, education, training and experiences required for serving in a specialty.”

In addition to learning about various careers, the cadets stayed in base lodging, ate in the dining facility, participated in physical training sessions, received incentive flights and engaged in a speed mentoring session. The physical training session featured memorial push-ups in honor of Lt. Col. William Schroeder, who was killed in the line of duty, a year ago to the day.

“This is going to be a significant way to help everyone understand the importance of physical fitness and also bring history, heritage, what it is to be an Airman, sacrifice and those kind of things to bear,” LaBrutta said.

According to Cadet Daniel Pierson, an Alabama University student, going through Pathways to Blue has been educational.

“I enjoyed flying in the C-130J Hercules and seeing some things I didn’t necessarily think about doing,” said Pierson. “There are some very interesting career fields that I think could be very rewarding. I’m still waiting to see some of the other career fields to see (what) direction I might want to go, but it has been a very good experience.”

In addition, Pierson feels Pathways to Blue provided him with broader insight into the Air Force.

 “I think it shows you the highlights of the Air Force, the best it has to offer; it shows you flying in planes, working in jobs that benefit other people, and benefit the country as a whole,” he said. “I think that is really important when you are making your decision. You can see what the efforts of the Air Force have on the nation.”

When the event concludes LaBrutta hopes the cadets leave inspired.

“Anything that you want to do out in the community you can do right here in the U.S. Air Force,” LaBrutta said. “We need our nation’s best to be part of the world’s premier Air Force so we can continue to do what we do for our nation ... security, safety and asset protection. We make sure the freedoms we hold dear are protected not only today, but into the future and (these cadets) can be a part of that (future).”