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    Reservist attends Mexico Aerospace Fair as sole NCO panelist on Women, Peace and Security conference

    Reservist attends Mexico Aerospace Fair as conference panelist

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Justin Norton | Maj. Christine Martinez (left), 12th Air Force foreign affairs officer, Col. Pamela...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Justin Norton 

    302nd Airlift Wing

    A 302nd Operations Group reservist participated in the 2023 Mexican Aerospace Fair as a panelist on the Women, Peace and Security conference at Santa Lucia Air Base, Mexico, Apr. 26-29, to speak about her experiences as a woman in the Air Force Reserve.

    The aerospace fair, hosted by the Mexican Armed Forces, is intended to promote Mexico’s civil and military aerospace industry as well as its technology and defense products. It attracts tens of thousands of participants each year from dozens of countries around the world involved in hundreds of companies within the aerospace sector.

    Master Sgt. Sueann Carrasco, 302nd Operations Group commander support staff NCO in charge, spoke in front of 500 conference attendees about her experiences working as a woman in a male-dominated career field. She spoke alongside multiple Air Force officers as the only NCO among the panelists about her female and male mentors throughout her career. She also highlighted how exercise resiliency helped her within the Air Force.

    “The whole event was an amazing experience that I will always deeply cherish in my mind and heart,” said Carrasco. “Understanding the beginnings and history of limitations women faced in the past, witnessing the work of the women that came before me and those continuing to work arduously changing policies to advance women’s rights, equity and respect in the workplace left me inspired to find ways to contribute to those efforts.”

    Carrasco said she’s had many outstanding mentors throughout her career to help her get to where she is, and she’s never felt as though her progression was impeded due to her gender. She spoke highly of the Airmen who trained and guided her as she developed professionally in the Air Force Reserve.

    Dr. Catherine Lantigua, international training manager for U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, was the lead U.S. coordinator for the conference. She said even though it was an intimidating crowd, Carrasco found a professional balance between being accessible versus formal as she spoke about her experiences.

    “I feel it’s extremely important to allow our members to participate in events like this outside their local work environment,” said Col. DeAnna Franks, 302 OG commander. “I was very proud of Carrasco to engage in these conversations to aid new female-led platforms for the Mexican military and others. Her representing the enlisted path and still actively serving at the unit level is important. When a professional Airman can provide a relatable aspect of training and readiness from the unit level leadership, that can resonate so much clearer.”

    Lantigua said a key objective was to use a holistic approach in communicating NCO development as a critical organizational strengthening tool. Since everyone plays a role in the mission and efforts are distributed through force, Carrasco was able to demonstrate the strong relationships between officers and NCOs in the Air Force that contribute to mission success. After Carrasco finished speaking she answered questions from attendees about her job and role in the Air Force, sharing how NCOs are trained how much they’re relied upon.

    Lantigua said it was a fine moment to see Carrasco, a Latina woman, speaking with pride to an audience in Mexico about the opportunities she received in the U.S. She appreciates the support provided by the 302nd Airlift Wing with role models like Carrasco for Mexican girls who may be thinking about what opportunities are available to them in the future.

    “It is critical for women leaders to participate in these types of events to share experiences, mentor other women and gain the hearts and support of men,” said Lantigua. “For women not in leadership roles, participating and asking questions, expressing frustrations and promoting ideas from real life experiences is how we can be genuine and realistic about the obstacles we need to overcome on the road towards equity.”

    Carrasco also worked with Lantigua showing how the U.S. military optimizes the use of the noncommissioned officer corps by giving them the authority to manage, lead and execute operations with limited supervision. With the aid of Mexican Armed Forces junior service members, she welcomed visitors and coordinated and managed all VIP participants’ movements throughout the event.

    Carrasco said she wanted to encourage all women to follow their dreams regardless of obstacles in their way and emphasized that education is key to enabling societal change and breaking down barriers. She said there’s more work to be done for gender normalization regarding the treatment and expectations of women, and the expansion of opportunities for them.

    “I invite you all to open your minds,” Carrasco said to the panel. “To discover the tremendous resources that exist in having a culture of diversity and inclusion in your organizations. We the people are the Armed Forces and when we create a place of safety and growth for our personnel, they will respond with dedication and commitment. Organizations with people dedicated and committed to the mission are places where people embrace excellence.”



    Date Taken: 10.16.2023
    Date Posted: 11.21.2023 11:34
    Story ID: 458301

    Web Views: 31
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