Flying High: Recognizing Leadership Success!

By Lt. Col. Ralph Gracia USAF Ret.
Guest Columnist

Recently, our Air Force Junior ROTC (AFJROTC) Cadet Major Shay Crutch was recognized with the prestigious Chief of Staff Private Pilot Scholarship Program at Franklin K. Lane Educational Campus. Recognition will always be the most critical path as a leader and must be inspiring others to celebrate success. So, let’s celebrate! We are honored and proud to announce that Cadet Major Shay Crutch, an 11th-grade AFJROTC cadet at the Academy of Innovative Technology, has received a scholarship to attend an accredited Aviation University participating in a Private Pilot Certificate training program in the summer of 2022.

The AFJROTC Flight Academy Scholarship Program is an Air Force-level initiative in collaboration with the commercial aviation industry to address the national civilian and military pilot shortage. The Flight Academy allows aspiring young aviators to get their Private Pilot’s Certification, at no cost, during an eight-week summer course at partner universities. This prestigious recognition is awarded to one of 200 AFJROTC cadets around the world to receive the scholarship valued at approximately $22,500 from Headquarters AFJROTC, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, AL.

As leaders, teachers, and educators, we must seek to recognize our students at every step. We must also instill values, character, and life development skills so they can be successful. In a recent goal-setting class, we worked with our cadets to acknowledge their hard work, dedication, and commitment through the unit goals. As leaders, we must continue to emphasize academic achievement as an integral part of achieving goals and recognition. One can’t simply tell a student to have self-esteem or to be persistent, and to appreciate learning; instead, those critical characteristics are most effectively developed through the practice of goal setting and the pursuit of a valuable academic achievement.

Cadet Major Crutch’s dream is now a reality—1st ever at our Franklin K. Lane Educational Campus to attain this prestigious award. We are so proud of Shay! AFJROTC Aerospace Science Instructor MSgt Eddie Carr shared, “The biggest obstacle to students’ success is not understanding how to set goals. I have found that students’ self-discipline and motivation are intertwined with the goals they set. When students are expected to perform at high levels, they do! For that reason, it is rooted in an unwavering belief that all students may soar if provided with the right environment, coupled with the tools to execute goals while celebrating every success, no matter how small.”