HomeNewsArticle Display

Career day encourages local girls to dream big

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

(From left in uniform) Staff Sgt. James Bradley, 317th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, leads a group of girls to the mini C-17 Globemaster there where Staff Sgt. Austin Dove, 317th AS loadmaster, waits during the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20.(U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day. This career day is sponsored by the 315th Airlift Wing and Women in Aviation, a group that encourages women to seek career opportunities in aviation. According to a 2017 statistic from the Federal Aviation Administration, of the nearly 609,306 active pilots in the United States, only about seven percent are women, and women account for almost 30 percent of the more than 671,222 non-pilot aviation jobs in the United States. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

(In uniform from left) Capt. Julia Lasage, 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, Master Sgt. Latonya Brown, 315th AES medical technician, and Maj. Roseann Teckman, 315th AES flight nurse describe the aeromedical evacuation mission to attendees of the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

Air Force Reserve Command Chief Ericka Kelly shares her story, starting with being a 5-year-old abandoned Guatemalan girl to her current position as the highest ranking enlisted Airman in the Air Force Reserve, to attendees of the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

(From right) Air Force Reserve Command Chief Ericka Kelly greets Staff Sgt. Shequille Hammond and Master Sgt. Mendy Dillard, 315th Civil Engineer Flight firefighters, during the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

A1C Shaniyah Wrighton, 315th Security Forces Squadron, teaches a girl how to properly hold a BlueGuns M-4 training gun at the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

A girl attending the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day, March 20, Wears a Combat Camera body armor vest and helmet speaks with Senior Airman Ericka Engblom, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, about being an Air Force combat camera specialist.. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

315th Airlift Wing Vice Commander, Col. Jeanine McAnaney welcomes attendees of the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day

Senior Master Sgt. Nicole Singletary, 315th Civil Engineer Flight, shares her unique career and life story with attendees of the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20, (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes) (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 14

Tech. Sgt. Carrie Knoell, 315th Airman and Family Readiness, shares her unique career and life story with attendees of the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20, (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 14

Senior Airman Shakenya Smith, 701st Airlift Squadron, shares her unique career and life story with attendees of the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20, (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 14

315th Airlift Wing Vice Commander, Col. Jeanine McAnaney (left) and Air Force Reserve Command Chief Ericka Kelly (right) stand with the winners of the 2018 Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Scholarship Essay contest (from right) Lynsey Dethier, 1st place, Amy Lorentzos-Lobo, 2nd place, and Kayla Lass, 3rd place, at the JBC WIA Career Day here, March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 14

(From left) Staff Sgt. Adam Dya and Staff Sgt. Sean Schoonover, 628th Security Forces Squadron K9 handlers, give a demonstration on the deployment of a military working dog, Soltan, in front of girls attending the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day here, March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 14 of 14

1st Lt. Ashly Finnigan, 16th Airlift Squadron pilot tells girls about the controls on the flight deck of a C-17 Globemaster III during the 11th Annual Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day, March 20. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Dukes)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. --

This year’s Joint Base Charleston Women in Aviation Career Day, here March 20, was a resounding success according to event organizers.

“Success from our 11th Annual WIA Career Day event could be felt and seen by the excitement on the girls' faces; them dragging their feet when they didn't want to leave one area for another because they were so enthralled, said Barbara Sosebee, JBC WIA secretary. 

"It's very inspiring just seeing what they've become and knowing that I can become too," said Gabreiella Johnson, a junior from Fort Dorchester High School attending this year's event.

“It was great watching everyone come together once again to mentor and share their experiences to bring about a possible light of hope in someone's future they may not have felt possible before,” said Sosebee.

More than 100 local girls from about 20 Lowcountry middle and high schools showed up to the 315th Airlift Wing’s career-day event, themed “Be Inspired,” which included career tables and demonstrations by various career fields in the aviation realm.

“Besides being a way for us to give back to the community, our Women in Aviation Career Day is an opportunity to inspire these young ladies to be whatever they want to be,” said Col. Jeanine McAnaney, 315th Airlift Wing vice commander.

Each year the event features an essay contest where the girls write about an influential woman who has overcome adversity and made an impact on aviation. This year’s JBC Women in Aviation Scholarship essay winners were:

  • 1st Place ($250) Lynsey Dethier, Cane Bay High School, wrote about Charleston C-17 Maintainer, Senior Master Sgt. Michele Summers2nd Place
  •  ($200) Amy Lorentzos-Lobo, Wando High School, wrote about Russian cosmonaut and the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova3rd Place
  •  ($150) Kayla Lass, Cane Bay High School, wrote about former First Lady Michelle Obama

This year’s guest speaker was Air Force Reserve Command Chief Ericka Kelly who captivated the girls by telling them about her humble beginnings as an abandoned and homeless 5-year-old Guatemalan girl and her life journey to presently holding the position as the highest ranking enlisted Airman in the Air Force Reserve.

“I am so honored to be where I am today; among the top 10 enlisted in the Air Force,” Kelly said to the girls.

The girls in the audience seemed to hang on the chief’s every word as she told them, “I never accepted the label that I had no value.”

“But there have been amazing people in my life who have helped me along the way,” Kelly said.

“Hope is real. Hard work is real,” Kelly said. “Do you guys have a dream?” To which the most of the girls said “yes.”

“Chase it!” Kelly said.

The Chief challenged the girls to “Get to the roots of who you are inside and keep taking steps forward.”

“These girls were mesmerized by the chief’s speech and were very respectful of her,” McAnaney said. “Hearing her say these things to the girls was huge.”

The girls also visited the flight line where they toured a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. Inside they met with aeromedical evacuation nurses and technicians who had a full litter station set up. They also spoke with pilots and loadmasters who explained what their roles were. 

"I didn't know a girl could be a fireman," said Charity Green, an 8th grader at Camp Road Middle School, after she met 315th Airlift Wing Firefighter  Master Sgt. Mendy Dillard at one of the career tables.

On the flight deck, girls excitedly jumped into the pilot seats and grab the control sticks. “What does this button do? Is that a radar display? What are all those buttons for?” were the typical questions the excited girls asked.

Outside the aircraft, they spoke with maintenance specialists and got an up-close look the plane's behemoth engines and five-story tall tail section. And they toured the world-famous 315th AW Mini C-17 replica sitting off to the side of the full-sized jet.

At least a couple of times the members of the mini C-17 team heard, “Does this thing fly?” After a quick chuckle, they responded, “No.”