Students Seek Information About Military, Civilian Careers
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 27, 2006 More than 400 middle school, high school and college students from across Texas flocked to student expositions at Huston-Tillotson University here Feb. 25 seeking information about military service and civilian jobs in the Defense Department.
Martika Avery, 13, of Wheatley Middle School in San Antonio, talks about her future educational and career interests with Air Force Maj. Marvin Jordan, the Defense Department's deputy director of military equal opportunity. Earlier, Avery attended Jordan's lecture about military service and civilian job opportunities in DoD. Photo by Rudi Williams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The expositions were part of the two-day National African American History Month observance sponsored by DoD and Huston-Tillotson in conjunction with historically black colleges and universities. The students were provided information about appointments at the service academies, entry into ROTC programs and civilian career opportunities in DoD, including how to participate in civilian intern programs.
Missy Adunbarin, 18, a senior at Thurgood Marshall High School in Houston, said she stopped to talk to Mylechia L. Smalls at the Navy's civilian jobs table because she heard the Navy has engineering job openings.
"I want to major in biomedical engineering and I was thinking about joining the Marines, so I thought the people here could help me out," Adunbarin said. She added that she had interacted with recruiters who had come to her school, but would follow up on civilian service possibilities she found interesting.
Smalls said the first questions the youngsters ask is, "Is it a military job? Do I have to sign an agreement? Is there a commitment?"
"We have to break the ice and tell them, 'No it's not," she said. "There's no contractual agreement. It's a civilian opportunity supporting the military, but not working in the military."
The Navy's active duty service table had a steady flow of visitors. "The kids are interested in educational opportunities as well as the different kinds of jobs in the Navy," said Lt. Elizabeth McQuinn of the Naval Recruiting District in San Antonio.
"I talked to some about medical school. They have high aspirations in high school, talking about how they want to be a doctor. I also talked to kids about becoming engineers, flying airplanes - all kinds of stuff.
"They're interested in the jobs as well as the educational opportunities," McQuinn said. "And they want to go Navy."
Jeral Wells, 15, and Joseph Hayes, 16, were talking to Cynthia Davis at the Army's Installation Management Agency table about the Army intern program.
Hayes said he stopped to talk to Davis because her table looked interesting and they're offering engineering jobs. "I want to major in some kind of engineering and get a civilian job in the Defense Department," he noted.
Wells said he's interested in engineering too and would like to be a civilian employee.
Davis said when the students visit her table, "they want to know what programs we have for them. One of my questions is, 'What are you majoring in?' Then we go through various programs that we offer the young kids, specifically the seniors. We have some programs that require a college degree and some that don't.
"Those who are graduating from college come right into the intern program in engineering, financial management, public affairs, transportation, personnel and many more fields," Davis noted.
Martika Avery, 13, of Wheatley Middle School in San Antonio, said she came to the event because she wanted to see what she could pursue in life. "I found out plenty of stuff about the Air Force, Navy and everything else."
Avery said it doesn't matter whether she joins the armed forces or works as a civilian supporting servicemen and women. "I just want to serve my country," she said. "I want to major in criminal justice."
Earlier in the day, about 200 students attended a lecture conducted by Air Force Maj. Marvin Jordan, DoD's deputy director of military equal opportunity, who discussed the various opportunities in the Defense Department.
"Mainly, I talked about commissioning opportunities as well as civilian career opportunities," said Jordan. "I had representatives from each service academy talk to them, and I gave them a speech on ROTC opportunities.
"I also gave them tips for success as they move on in their post-high school years," Jordan said. "And they should make sure their grade-point averages stay solid."
He told the youngsters that they should have a demanding curriculum - science, math and English courses. "I told them to make sure they take their standardized tests - SAT or ACT - early and take them often," Jordan noted.
Several students approached Jordan after the lecture asking such questions as how to get a letter from their congressional delegate recommending them for one of the service academies.
"For the service academies, you have to get an appointment - a nod from your senator or congressional official," Jordan explained. "They also asked a few questions about ROTC opportunities. They seemed to be interested in ROTC because you can lead a normal college life, whereas with the service academy, you live at the academy, you march everywhere and eat and breathe the academy. They had questions on the distinctions between the two.
"We know that when you say Department of Defense, a huge segment of America only sees a uniform and a weapon," Jordan noted. "They don't realize that there are more civilians who come to the Pentagon every day than people dressed like I dress. So when we can educate society at large on the DoD civilian opportunities that go along with supporting the warfighter, I think it's a victory.
"One of the things I stress to the kids is that in this point in their lives, you don't know what you don't know," Jordan said.