Exceptional Del City students visit the 552nd Air Control Wing through DelQuest
By 2nd Lt. Kinder L. Blacke, 552d Air Control Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 06, 2008
9 November 2007 --
Airmen from the 552nd Air Control Wing spent an afternoon mentoring 25 gifted high school students from the Del City district November 8 as they toured the E-3 aircraft and mission simulators.
The event was sponsored by the DelQuest Future Leaders of America Program, which selects deserving high school juniors from the Del City district to participate in three days of leadership training and professional development.
"The goal of the program is to provide mentors and leadership training to high school students. These students have an outstanding academic record and are very active in their community," said Captain Brian L. Hardeman, air battle manager, 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron, who coordinated the event and served as a mentor to several students.
The program aims to show several different leadership styles, said Wendell Kluge, one of the DelQuest committee members and host parents. The kids are also taught how to interact with the community and network with other community leaders, he said.
The students were able to put their mixing and mingling skills to the test with several key civic leaders including the Honorable Scott Inman, a member of the House of Representatives and Del City Mayor Brian Linley.
"I couldn't believe I was eating dinner next to the superintendent of Del City schools," said Aldan Olds, one of the DelQuest students.
After staying with a host family and spending a few days with such organizations as the 552nd ACW, Fire Department, SWAT team, and local hospital, the students were fired up about the program.
"I don't want to go back home," said Mr. Olds, "this is so much fun!"
All the students admitted to not only having fun, but also learning a lot about leadership qualities, including the importance of listening to others. Several students repeated the phrase, "leaders are servers."
The DelQuest program encourages students to further develop their existing leadership skills and gives them the confidence to do so.
"I'm kind of shy, but I guess they see a good leader in me," said Ana Flores, a student who enjoyed quizzing the 552nd ACW crewmembers on all aspects of their jobs.
During the tour, students had the opportunity to speak with both Sentry flyers and maintainers to find out what would be in store for them if they chose a career in the United States Air Force. They were also individually coined by Brig. Gen. Lori J. Robinson, 552nd Air Control Wing Commander, who walked them through the aircraft and shared her leadership advice.
"The students will leave this program, take what they have learned and apply it to their academic studies and work environment to become better leaders in their community," said Captain Hardeman. He continued, "it was an absolute pleasure being around them. I have no doubt they will go far in life."