July 22, 2024

NAVAIR Leaders Connect With Young Scholars

Young Scholars
Students from Boys Hope Girls Hope and Naval Air Systems Command employees including Adrienne Somerville, NAVAIR’s command operations deputy director, fifth from right, tour Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. (NAVAIR News photo)

NAS Patuxent River’s Naval Air Systems Command hosted five students from Boys Hope Girls Hope, a charitable organization whose mission is to nurture and guide young people in need to become well-educated, career-ready men and women.

“Successful people put their resources into things.
Significant people put their time, energy, and resources into people.”

–Adrienne Somerville, command operations deputy director for NAVAIR

Ms. Somerville first met members of Boys Hope Girls Hope in October 2022, during a Women of Color Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics STEM conference in Michigan, where she spoke on the panel, “Fresh, Clean, and Fly in Corporate America: Grooming and Image Secrets to Power, Style, and Grace,” focused on enhancing professionalism and image. Following her discussion, Somerville met the students and expressed the importance of keeping an open mind to future career pathways, and the value of mentorship and connection.

“They reached out, and I have been speaking with them since the conference,” Ms. Somerville said. “They found mentors in me and in others. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

She recently spoke about the importance of mentoring during the 2022 Mentors of the Year awards ceremony. During the event, she stated that “mentoring adds such value and richness not only to your job and your contributions as an organizational leader, but your ability to share and transfer knowledge, to ask probing questions, to capitalize on group dynamics and to shape and influence individuals at all levels.”

The students, part of the Boys Hope Girls Hope World Wide Technology Scholars Program, a partnership with World Wide Technology that provides 25 Boys Hope Girls Hope collegians access to scholarships, internships and leadership development opportunities in STEM and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM), visited the base to learn more about career opportunities at NAVAIR.

“NAVAIR is a field of aviation that offers so many career opportunities,” Ms. Somerville said. “Students should know that, one, we exist and, two, there are a plethora of opportunities here that they might not know about.”

Me’yani McDonald was among the touring students. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, she is currently studying business management at the University of Toledo.

“I was surprised at how many career paths within the naval industry were available for me as a business major,” she said. “It was amazing for me to see that I can still serve my country without having to be an engineer or fighter pilot. I can support the work of the people who provide safety to our atmospheres by negotiating business deals to provide parts, be a part of project management, do administrative work and even support the teams who are making big projects come to life.”

According to Ms. Somerville, the group of students were able to tour several components of the Patuxent River facilities, such as the Triton and F-35 fighter jet programs, and meet with members of NAVAIR, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, and Commander Fleet Readiness Center leadership and employees.

“We had an amazing young engineer panel and phenomenal all-other professional panel that included business financial management, logisticians, contracting, information technology, and former artisan mechanic from FRC East, to expose them to opportunities,” she said. “They were able to meet with Mr. Steve Cricchi, executive director, NAWCAD, who introduced them to NAVAIR.”

In the future, Ms. McDonald said she would like to stay connected with Ms. Somerville; Lanetta Daniels, acquisition program analyst, FRCE; Jackie Jackson, IT/Cyber Security Department director, Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) South West; and John Meyers, executive director, Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division.

“These are the people who made me feel supported and welcomed while I was on the base,” she said. “They provided me with resources and connections that can take my career to the next level. They made me feel like I can be a part of something great in the next generation of civilian workers.”

According to Erin Beezley, Boys Hope Girls Hope service programs coordinator, “Our visit to the base provided invaluable experience to those who participated. We would be thrilled to visit again and provide more of our young people the opportunity to gain insight, guidance and inspiration from the incredible team on base.”

Ms. Somerville plans to welcome Boys Hope Girls Hope back to base, along with other schools and organizations.

“I would love to expose and introduce more schools and students to NAVAIR,” she said. “We could form partnerships with students so that they understand who we are and what we do for our nation. They would be surprised to learn that in this small town, there is such an opportunity to elevate and support the Department of Defense and national security interests. Outside the pentagon, there is a powerful naval aviation center that plays a pivotal role in enabling them to sleep at night.”

Ms. McDonald found the importance of confidentiality within the naval base most interesting.

“Although the people who build and fly the planes are not in front line warfare, they work diligently to make sure that the innovative technology that is created is protected,” she said. “They go through great lengths to ensure that our country is safe and secure with top-of-the-line aircrafts.”

The group also joined six others to attend the Black Engineer of the Year Awards conference in National Harbor, MD, where all 11 met and interacted with Ms. Somerville and other NAVAIR team members attending the conference. During the annual conference, 10 NAVAIR employees were recognized for their achievements in STEM.

“I hope we can work together to make this a recurring experience and encourage our young people to explore and be excited by careers in STEM,” Ms. Beezley said.

Ms. McDonald admires STEM-based careers and wanted to know how a business major could support the nation as well.

“It was important to me to speak to women who had experience in the STEM field,” she said. “I believe that behind every successful engineer there is a successful businessperson to support them in achieving their goals.”

According to Ms. Somerville, visitors to the base can expect to see the latest technology that can be shown, such as a manned flight simulator.

“They will meet leaders in our organization that will be open about our journey, and the rewards NAVAIR offers its employees,” she said. “They might be surprised to learn that employees are not only connected to the base, but also beyond to the community in which we reside.”

For Ms. Beezley, the biggest takeaway of the visit was learning about the many opportunities available to college students and young professionals through NAVAIR internships, mentorships, and career programs.

“I look forward to supporting our students in applying to internships on base and in secondary locations,” she said.

Ms. Somerville encourages others who may be connected to student groups or schools and are interested in visiting NAVAIR to reach out to her or Command Operations Officer Shelley Wiltrout at [email protected].

“Let’s do more together,” she said. “It must be a group effort to make these kinds of commitments and investments in our youth, for it is simply the good work that will continue to make our nation great.”

This article was provided by NAVAIR News.

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