Putting the Kids into Military Flight Suits

Young Latinas beginning to dream

My week ended with a fantastic experience at a charter school with a great name–the Making Waves Academy. I was invited to present to 70 “wave makers,” – 7th grade students, all Latino and African-American, enrolled in a summer program to expose them to curriculum and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM.)

I was asked to present my own challenges as a Latina born to undereducated parents, who dared to dream a bigger vision of my life and who found ways to make it happen. Specifically, I was asked to share my military aviation career with the kids and connect it to the STEM curriculum they are now undertaking.

I titled my presentation ‘The STEM of Aviation.” I shared the cultural, financial and academic challenges I faced as a teenager. I shared specifically HOW I overcame them and who helped me. I encouraged each student to seek out mentors, to associate with friends who have college-educated parents and to ensure there are adults around them telling them they are college material. I shared deeply personal stories of familial resistance to the oldest daughter leaving the state for the halls of U.C. Berkeley hundreds of miles from home. I shared photos and stories of where that fabulous career took me in the world. I showed how elements of each S, T, E and M relate to aerodynamics, avionics systems, weather, physiology, navigation and more.

But the best parts came at the end, with amazing questions from the students and the donning of REAL Air Force flight suits, gloves and scarves.

Among the question I was asked were these:

  • What did you do in middle school to prepare for college?
  • What did your parents want you to be when you grew up?
  • How did you decide you wanted to fly for the military? and, the killer question
  • Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

That last one was tricky! I answered it with my philosophy that has gotten me through the most difficult times: “Remind yourself that you’re on a time line that never stops and that nothing lasts forever. If you’re at a moment in life when something is unpleasant, difficult, boring or unbearable, persevere and remind yourself that ‘somewhere in time this is already over.'”  I think they liked that.

The last fifteen minutes were spent snapping photos as three kids at a time donned my flight suits, gloves and scarves and said things like, “Whoa dude, you look great!” and “That flight suit looks great on you!”

7th graders thinking about aviation careers

What fun! I am blessed to be able to do this work, to inspire young people and to expand their horizons far beyond their current circumstance.

I look forward to more opportunities like this. That you Dr. Evelyn Wesley and team!

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10 Responses to Putting the Kids into Military Flight Suits

  1. I came across this blog post while doing some research for a self-publishing post I was doing.Great results come from good info. Refreshing and interesting read. Thanks for sharing some really great information.

  2. Melissa says:

    hahaha iam there on the first picture . we are now on 9th grade & you teached us alot 😀

  3. grace says:

    Thanks for stopping by today. I would love the opportunity to present to your high school. I also want to invite you to next year’s Women of Aviation event where you can get a free “discovery flight” in a small airplane at a local airport. Here’s the event we just had this past weekend: http://www.womenofaviationweek.org/ Would love to see you and your friends and moms fly with us next year!

  4. Oh , I remember this day . It was FUN
    I Absolutely LOVED IT 😀

  5. grace says:

    Thanks for reliving this moment with us today. 🙂 Check your email for some info!


  6. emiliano de la mora says:

    i love this day it was so fun!!!!!!! i wonder if we wil have it again man i love melissa but i also love this more it was a fun event

    • grace says:

      Emiliano and Melissa,

      Thanks for not forgetting me. 🙂 I LOVED that day too. You all inspired me too and look what I’ve done since: http://www.captainmama.com –we’re publishing the first bilingual children’s book about why women, mommies and Latinas serve in uniforms. It’s in production now and will be available this summer. The book is for ages 3-8 so please tell families, teachers, friends that I’m scheduling school visits in the fall, okay? But for your age group, I have two presentations, STEM of Aviation that you saw and this new one:

      The Unlikely Aviator –Presentation for adults and students alike features Graciela’s personal journal from oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants to scholarship AFROTC cadet at the #1 public university in America to military officer and aviator. Speaker sheet is here: http://www.captainmama.com/uploads/Speaker%20sheet%20The%20Unlikely%20Aviator%20%20Graciela%20Tiscareno-Sato%20April%202013.pdf

      The STEM of Aviation – designed for middle and high school students, this talk encourages young people to pursue STEM careers while sharing highlights from Graciela’s military career as an Air Force officer, aviator, instructor navigator and leader in multicultural settings. Speaker sheet is here: http://www.captainmama.com/uploads/Speaker%20sheet%20STEM%20Aviation%20Graciela%20Tiscareno-Sato%20April%202013.pdf

      In addition, I can hook you up with free orientation flights in real airplanes so that you can fall in love more with flying! 🙂

      Please forward this info to your teachers. I’m available to speak at your high schools off course too, on this topic that you enjoyed, complete with flight suits. Or I can present from my book Latinnovating to give you insights into green economy innovations from Latinos. http://www.latinnovating.com which will inform you as you decide what to study when you go to university.

      I hope to see you again soon and catch up on how you’re doing now!


  7. melissa orozco says:

    aww emily i love you too but how dare you say you love the event more than me haha no offense ms grace but i kind of have to addit that i enjoyed it well gtg i love emiliano!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hey lets get it done tonigh bye <3

  8. melissa says:

    Hey ms grace its now been 3 years ! and me and emily are still going strong !!

  9. grace says:

    I’m wondering: where are you now, Melissa? I remember that day FONDLY!

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