On Thursday, February 4, 2016, the NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) African-American Pipelines Advisory Team (APAT) and EEO & Diversity Division presented their Black History Month Program. This event took place at the Rivers Edge Conference Center on the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Maryland. The theme was Hallowed Grounds: Trendsetters and the event was video teleconferenced to all of the NAVAIR sites. I was so honored to be asked to be their keynote speaker for this year’s program.
The program started promptly at 1:00pm with the Welcome and Introductory Comments by Mr. Stephen Cricchi who is the Assistant Commander of Corporate Operations and Total Force. Then, Dr. Janice Walthour, Vice President of the NAACP of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Branch #7025, spoke on community engagement. She’s a former teacher, so it was very fitting that she gave the attendees a pop quiz! Can someone please tell Dr. Walthour that I’d like a copy of the quiz??!!
Then it was my turn. After my introduction was completed by Ms. Adrienne Somerville, APAT’s Co-Lead, I briskly walked up to the podium in rhythm with the Boogie Boys’ “FlyGirl” playing in the background. I spent a lot of time preparing my speech because I never take it lightly when I’m asked to speak before an audience. My goal was to share my story in a way that would stay and linger with them longer than my presence with them that day. I’m prayerful that I met my objective and that my message was clear: You.Can.Achieve.Your.Dreams!
In attendance were a few students from Spring Ridge Middle School’s Young Ladies Empowerment Committee mentoring group that benefits at-risk adolescent girls. Ms. Tracy Lane, through a private foundation Ms. Adrienne Somerville established in honor of her grandmother, the Carolyn E. Parker Foundation, serves as their school sponsor. Their goal is to empower others and themselves through career readiness exploration, personal enrichment, and service to others within their own community. Recently, the foundation arranged for guest speakers/leaders to meet with the young ladies on topics ranging from etiquette and vision board training. A couple of the ladies are even interested in aviation-they were definitely in the right place!
Once my speech was over, I was able to answer some questions from the audience and also from their satellite locations. When the Q & A was done, Mr. John Meyers, APAT’s Champion Technical Director, NAWCTSD Director, Human Systems Department, made his closing remarks. Upon conclusion of the event, I had the amazing pleasure of meeting and taking pictures with many of the people who were in attendance. Everyone was so gracious and they welcomed me with open arms. I felt like I was amongst family. Even in the short time I was able to spend with some of them one on one, we still managed to briefly swap stories and share words of encouragement. I even signed autographs for those who wanted one. But, it still felt a little strange to have that many people in one room and not pass around the collection plate!!!!
Nevertheless, I’m forever grateful to my “village” that came to support me and my Aunt, LeShune Clark, for nominating me for this huge honor of delivering this year’s keynote address. I’d also like to thank Ms. Adrianne Somerville and Mr. Ambus Hunter for their consistent communication with me over the last couple of months to ensure that this program would be a success. So for allowing me to sprinkle a little inspiration into your life and you in return, allowing me this opportunity ………I want to thank you for the LIFT!
Friday, February 12th, is the 7th Anniversary of our Historic Flight. Make sure you subscribe to the blog to be the first to know the details on how we are celebrating this year. Until next time…keep reaching for the stars!
Photographer: Ebes Olumese
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