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Pathways to Blue shows ROTC cadets the way

Tech. Sgt. Timothy, 334th Training Squadron combat control instructor, briefs Air Force ROTC cadets on Keesler’s battlefield Airmen training at Matero Hall during Pathways to Blue April 15, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Pathways to Blue, a diversity outreach event hosted by 2nd Air Force, the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing, included more than 180 cadets from Air Force ROTC detachments from various colleges and universities. Cadets received hands-on briefings on technical and flying operations and an orientation flight in support of the Air Force's Diversity Strategic Roadmap program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

A 334th Training Squadron combat control instructor briefs Air Force ROTC cadets on battlefield Airmen training during Pathways to Blue at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., April 15, 2016. Pathways to Blue, a diversity outreach event hosted by Second Air Force, the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing, included more than 180 cadets from Air Force ROTC detachments from various colleges and universities. Cadets received hands-on briefings on technical and flying operations and an orientation flight in support of the Air Force's Diversity Strategic Roadmap program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kemberly Groue)

Airman 1st Class Devin Harris, 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental technician, helps De’Terris Fox, University of Mississippi Air Force ROTC Cadet, test his finger dexterity while wearing a hazardous material suit at the Keesler Medical Center during Pathways to Blue April 15, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Pathways to Blue, a diversity outreach event hosted by 2nd Air Force, the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing, included more than 180 cadets from Air Force ROTC detachments from various colleges and universities. Cadets received hands-on briefings on technical and flying operations and an orientation flight in support of the Air Force's Diversity Strategic Roadmap program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Airman 1st Class Devin Harris, a 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental technician, helps De’Terris Fox, a University of Mississippi Air Force ROTC cadet, test his finger dexterity while wearing a hazardous material suit during Pathways to Blue at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., April 15, 2016. Pathways to Blue, a diversity outreach event hosted by Second Air Force, the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing, included more than 180 cadets from Air Force ROTC detachments from various colleges and universities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kemberly Groue)

Gabriela Valle-Ramos, University of Alabama Air Force ROTC Cadet, receives M-4 weapon operating instructions from Senior Airman Caleb Gilliard, 81st Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor, at the 81st SFS combat arms training and maintenance building during Pathways to Blue April 15, 2016, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Pathways to Blue, a diversity outreach event hosted by 2nd Air Force, the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing, included more than 180 cadets from Air Force ROTC detachments from various colleges and universities. Cadets received hands-on briefings on technical and flying operations and an orientation flight in support of the Air Force's Diversity Strategic Roadmap program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Gabriela Valle-Ramos, a University of Alabama Air Force ROTC cadet, receives M-4 carbine weapon instructions from Senior Airman Caleb Gilliard, a 81st Security Forces Squadron combat arms instructor, during Pathways to Blue at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., April 15, 2016. Pathways to Blue, a diversity outreach event hosted by Second Air Force, the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing, included more than 180 cadets from Air Force ROTC detachments from various colleges and universities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- More than 180 ROTC cadets from 22 colleges and 31 active-duty enlisted Airmen attended the second annual Pathways to Blue initiative April 15-16 hosted by Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base.

Cadets and Airmen learned about job opportunities, toured aircraft and sat down with officers for one-on-one mentorship and varying perspectives on commissioned life in the Air Force.

“Cadets can gain a lot from the perspective of mentors actually performing the mission,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Brown, the Second Air Force commander. “What we hope to achieve is to explain what really happens when you choose a specialty and join the Air Force; to show what it’s really like to be a cyber operator or a remotely piloted aircraft pilot. The ‘art of the possible’ inside the Air Force is what we are talking about here.”

Pathways to Blue aims to help build future leaders in the Air Force, as well as highlight different routes to becoming an Air Force officer. The target audience is freshmen and sophomores along with enlisted members who may be undecided about various career fields once they get commissioned.

The event kicked off with an introduction to the mentors then quickly moved to hands-on demonstrations with various career fields ranging from aerospace medicine and cyber operations to battlefield Airmen, space and missiles, aviation, medical, and a mixture of support fields.

“This is my second Pathways to Blue and it’s been very engaging and hands on,” said Kayla Davis, a Tuskegee University Air Force ROTC cadet. “I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was little because my mother was a nurse. The mentors have helped me better understand the different paths I could take to become one in the Air Force.”

As an event designed to showcase the Air Force’s mission diversity and commissioning options, Pathways to Blue mentors also appreciated the event’s scope.

“To see something like this 20 years ago would have been mind-blowing,” said Maj. Sarah Abel, an 81st Medical Operations Squadron clinical nurse specialist. “I’ve been in the Air Force for 16 years now and this would have been a game-changer for my college’s ROTC program.”

Brown also offered his personal take on opportunities in the armed forces for cadets attending Pathways to Blue.

“I can be what I want to be in the Air Force,” he said. “Regardless of my background, zip code, gender, race or economic standings, I can rise based on my capabilities in the Air Force. That is exactly what we want these cadets and all others to know.”

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