Columbus AFB Airmen inspire 7,000 8th graders at 2018 Career Expo
By Airman Hannah Bean, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 12, 2018
TUPELO, Miss. -- More than 120 Airmen from Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, spent several days showing more than 7,000 eighth-grade students, from 17 northeast Mississippi counties, some of the vast career opportunities the Air Force offers during the Imagine the Possibilities Career Expo Oct. 2-4 at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.
The expo was hosted by the CREATE Foundation, sponsored by the Toyota Wellspring Fund and more than 130 businesses. Airmen from Columbus AFB were represented in seven of the 18 career pathways including aerospace, emergency management, engineering, government and public administration, health sciences, logistics as well as law and public safety. Within those pathways a total of 17 career fields were showcased.
“First and foremost, it’s an opportunity to get out and connect with not just the students but the community as well,” said Maj. Richard Iser, 14th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations. “It’s about connecting with these kids and trying to inspire them to seek education and pursue (their interests).”
The “Imagine the Possibilities” Career Expo formed community partnerships with local businesses, to address the community challenges of inspiring and motivating students to pursue career goals.
“The point of the CREATE Expo is to get kids at an early enough age so that they can start to track in a certain way while they’re in high school, whether it’s toward the math, sciences or medical career fields or toward engineering and aviation,” said Capt. Chris Litscher, 14th Student Squadron flight commander. “It’s our job to kind of show them what all is out there. For me, back when I was in eighth grade, I had no concept of what was out there. Something like this opens their eyes, if you will, as to what all is out there.”
Litscher’s squadron showed students how they can be a part of the Air Force in an aerospace capacity through a variety of fields. Students were able to check out T-6 and T-38 models and get a feel for the controls in aircraft. The students even were able to try out the Bárány chair, a spinning device named for Nobel prize-winning Hungarian physiologist Robert Bárány that acclimates subjects to the stresses of flying.
Mike Clayborne, president of the CREATE foundation, said this expo has been extremely successful over but feels “the partnership with the Air Force took a really outstanding event to an even better one."
He said the resources from Columbus AFB make the expo even more exciting and give students insight to what opportunities are also available in the Air Force.
Clayborne said he wants students to walk away inspired from this and understand the variety of careers they have access to.
“We hope that it will inspire their imagination to think about what they want to do with their life and that there are many, many options out there for them to pursue,” Clayborne said. “This is just getting it on the radar screen for them. We think it makes education more relevant and clearly education is a key piece of the puzzle of someone being a contributing citizen to society and to having a fulfilling life.”