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AFRL Executive Director urges students to demonstrate passion, perseverance with careers

AFRL Workforce Diversity Recruitment

Jack Blackhurst, AFRL Executive Director, speaks to students attending an AFRL-sponsored outreach event Oct. 19 at the Air Force Museum Theatre as part of the Air Force Museum Foundation’s Living History Film Series featuring former NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory, as guest speaker, and a film presentation of “Hidden Figures.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Mikee Huber)

AFRL Workforce Diversity Recruitment Event

Former NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory was the guest speaker Oct. 19 at an AFRL Workforce Diversity Recruitment event held at the Air Force Museum Foundation's theatre at the National Museum of the United States Air Force for local middle, high school, and college students. The event was part of the Air Force Museum Foundation’s Living History Film Series featuring a film presentation of “Hidden Figures.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Mikee Huber)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – In an ongoing effort to enhance Air Force workforce diversity recruitment, the Air Force Research Laboratory and Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. presented a Living History Film Series event for 750 local middle, high school and college students from 20 different schools Oct. 18-19 at the Air Force Museum Theatre.

The outreach program featured film was “Hidden Figures,” which, according to website promotional material, tells the true story of three African-American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – who provided the brain power behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, an achievement that reestablished the nation's confidence and turned around the space race.

Former NASA Deputy Administrator and astronaut, retired Col. Fred Gregory, was a guest speaker at the viewings and shared his experiences with and answered questions from students. Gregory was selected as an astronaut in January 1978 and supported Space Shuttle mission’s STS-1 and STS-2, piloted STS-51B, and was the spacecraft commander for STS-33 and STS-44. He logged more than 455 hours in space and was also a friend and colleague of all three of the mathematicians featured in the film

Jack Blackurst, AFRL Executive Director, welcomed the students attending the Oct. 19 morning presentation of the movie and offered them something important to reflect on during their visit.

“The key thing to think about today as you watch the movie is your own future – where you’re going, what your dreams are, what your future job and career will be,” he told them.

“There are three individuals in this movie that had a dream and they wanted to make sure they pursued that dream. They had some obstacles to get through – that’s life and you’re going to experience that as you grow up, graduate and move on in your careers, so think about that as you watch the movie today. Each of you has a future and you’re at that point in time when you’re going to start thinking about that future so we wanted to provide you with this inspirational perspective,” he told the students.

Blackhurst emphasized that whether the students were interested in math, science, engineering, or other career opportunities such as business, personnel, contracting, finance, or others, there is a need for a variety of skill sets in the Air Force.

“Regardless of what career you decide on, you have to have passion. You’ll see the passion in the movie and the perseverance they had. The key aspect is that whatever you do, when you graduate and get into your career, when you get up every morning, you’ve got to like what you do. Figure out what your work passion is today and work it through as you graduate from high school and develop your plans for college, technical training, a job, whatever that is – have that passion.”