KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Airmen can learn a lot in 10 minutes from people with more experience than they have. Opening channels of interpersonal communication was the point of a “speed mentoring” session Sept. 25 at the Kirtland AFB Chapel’s Gravity facility, with 36 Airmen, NCOs and senior NCOs asking and answering questions on a broad range of topics.
A group of four emerging leaders came up with the idea and set up the session, initiated by the dorm council.
Senior Airman Monzell Wiggins is a 377th Air Base Wing protocol technician and president of Airmen Committed to Excellence, a private organization on base for E-1s through E-4s. Airman 1st Class Britney Zeigler is a 377th Medical Group public health technician and vice president of ACE. Airman 1st Class Blake Youngs is a 58th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist and dorm council president. Senior Airman Michael Elliott is a 58th Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance journeyman and associate member of the council.
Wiggins described what led to them identifying the need for such an event, and the goal for attendees.
“We would have meetings and ask people if they have mentors, and they’d say, ‘No, we don’t.’
There was no real way to gain a mentor that wasn’t in your AFSC. We put a video together, asking for NCOs and senior NCOs who can talk about family, mental health, career growth, professional development, overseas assignments, and finance, from their own experiences,” Wiggins said.
He added that he hopes it was like speed dating.
“You find your match – the person you clicked with – and you continue talking any time you go through just about anything, so you have someone else to talk to, other than people in your direct chain,” he said.
Speaking of the value provided by the mentors, Elliott said, “They’ve been in so long, they have a lot more knowledge of how we can go through the Air Force more smoothly.”
Wiggins gave an example of questions an Airman might ask during a mentoring conversation with an NCO.
“How is being an NCO? What are the differences from being an Airman? Mentor me on how to do that. What did you fail at that you don’t want me to fail at? What can I learn so I don’t make the same mistakes you made?”
In closing remarks, Chief Master Sgt. Robert Stamper, 377th Air Base Wing command chief, expressed appreciation to the ACE and dorm council for organizing the event, and to the mentors who shared time with the Airmen.
“Thanks for what you do, and thanks for being a part of this. My boss, Col. Miller, the 377th Air Base Wing and installation commander, is very invested in developing people. If we have good people, we have good Airmen, we have good NCOs, and we have good senior NCOs,” Stamper said.
He said Airmen need to take advantage of opportunities, and push their peers to do the same.
“We’re going to give Airmen an opportunity to develop, to grow, and be better. It’s not just for our wing – it’s for all units, across the installation. Every Airman has immense value to our organizations. We can’t do our missions without you,” Stamper said.