New Heights: ECU Student, Alumnus Volunteer at Air Force Encampment

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Maj. Bailey (left) and Cadet Nance (right) throw Pirate hooks at the 2016 Encampment.

A student and an alumnus of East Carolina University worked together at a recent Air Force event to help local youth reach new heights in confidence and leadership.

Rising senior Jacquelyn Nance and Chris Bailey ’08 volunteered at the 2016 Summer Encampment put on by the NC Wing of the Civil Air Patrol from June 18-25 near Charlotte.

The Civil Air Patrol, an official auxiliary of the Air Force run by civilian volunteers, hosts encampments for youth ages 12-18 as part of its mission to create good citizens who understand the importance of flight. Young cadets got to ride in airplanes and launch model rockets as they learned about aerospace. They also experienced some basic military training on the ground, like survival skills and first aid. Nance helped Bailey organize the flights and other activities, and even got to take a ride in a plane herself.

“The encampment was an amazing experience,” said Bailey, a major who serves as director of operations for the NC Wing. “Helping to mentor young cadets and in a weeks’ time see them develop is the most rewarding experience for me.”

“I like how the CAP develops leadership in students,” said Nance, who is a cadet in ECU’s Air Force ROTC program. “I enjoyed seeing their confidence and self-esteem growing.

While ECU alumni have participated in encampments before, this is the first time a student was asked to volunteer. Nance said she was happy to be a “guinea pig” and hopes other ECU cadets will volunteer in the future.

“It was great,” she said. “It was definitely a different experience. I didn’t know much about the Civil Air Patrol. This gave me an opportunity to learn more. It was really cool to experience another aspect of the Air Force. I also got the opportunity to build leadership skills of my own.”

“I’ve always wanted to be in the military,” continued Nance, who is from the Fayetteville area. “But my mom wanted me to get a college degree first. I came across the Air Force ROTC program at ECU. My mom went to ECU for nursing so she was excited.”

Nance is majoring in recreation therapy and plans to graduate in December 2017. After that, she’ll serve her required four years, and hopes to go into aircraft maintenance or airfield operations. “I like working with planes and people,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’ll do a full 20 years [in the Air Force]. I definitely want to use my major, so maybe I’ll get my masters.”

Wherever Nance’s career takes her, Bailey knows she’s off to a good start at ECU.

“ECU helped to make me a better leader and to put others first,” Bailey said. “ECU allowed me to go after my goals and to help mentor others to achieve theirs.”

By Jackie Drake

Students Take Flight With Alumni

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Cadets in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at East Carolina University recently got a chance to experience the thrill of flight firsthand with some help from alumni.

Pilots in the Civil Air Patrol, some of whom graduated from ECU, let students take the controls on guided flights from Pitt-Greenville Airport one weekend in November.

The Civil Air Patrol is an official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, staffed by civilian volunteers who assist with search and rescue missions, natural disaster relief and damage assessment, and more. The CAP also works to develop youth and educate citizens about air and space power. Because CAP pilots are volunteers, they often host incentive flights for the Air Force to save costs.

Twenty-two cadets from ROTC Detachment 600 at ECU and also Detachment 595 at North Carolina State University flew with three active duty Air Force pilots and two retired Air Force officers who also volunteer as civilian pilots in the CAP.

“They get to feel what it’s like to fly a plane and listen to air traffic control; they get a glimpse into the world of aviation,” said Air Force Col. (Ret.) Thomas Shubert ’74. “The mission objective for the flights was to enhance the Air Force ROTC cadets’ knowledge of aviation, discuss opportunities in the Air Force, and establish mentorship with participating aircrew.”

“This was an amazing experience and made me question why I had not considered a career as a pilot,” said Brittany Talbot, a senior from Garner, NC majoring in public health.

Talbot said she enjoyed getting to talk to other Air Force personnel and ECU alumni.

“It was amazing to be able to ‘pick their brains’ if you will about their experiences in the Air Force. As a prospective officer candidate, it made me even more excited to start my career,” she said. “I learned that just because you are given one job in the Air Force that doesn’t stop the endless possibilities that continue after you get out. One of the officers had just gotten out and is now pursuing a career in the medical field, which is my ultimate goal. From this experience I was about to get his information in hopes that he could give me tips in the future that would help me reach that goal.”

The look on the students’ faces said it all, according to Shubert. “It’s all about lighting a spark and showing them what it means to fly. We were able to expose them to things they normally wouldn’t be. And the alumni got a chance to be involved with students. You can’t put a price tag on this experience.”

Afterward, Shubert hosted a dinner for the cadets at Parker’s Barbecue.

By Jackie Drake

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Meet Richard Chavez ’80

richard-chavezEast Carolina University alumnus Richard Chavez ’80 is a senior executive with the Department of Homeland Security.

As the director of the Office of Operations Coordination, Chavez provides counsel directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. He leads more than 500 employees who are responsible for monitoring the safety of the United States on a daily basis. His office provides vital information to support decision making across all departments of Homeland Security as well as partners in state governments, law enforcement, and the private sector.

“I’m very proud that I went to ECU,” said Chavez, who graduated with a degree in corrections and law enforcement in 1980. “My experience definitely prepared me for my additional degrees and my career.”

Originally from southern California, Chavez came to eastern North Carolina when his father, who was in the Marine Corps, was stationed at Cherry Point. While living in New Bern, Chavez started looking at schools in North Carolina, particularly ECU.

“Of course football games were a big draw, but I really liked that Greenville wasn’t a big city; it had a rural atmosphere,” he said.

He was drawn to ECU’s corrections and law enforcement program because of its broader emphasis on social work and impacting the community.

“My favorite part of my time at ECU was the interactions I had in my classes and the different activities and field trips we did,” he said. “The law and policy classes really helped me understand how things work behind the scenes, and helped me learn how to interact with the community.”

After more than 25 years as an officer in the Air Force, Chavez served as a civilian advisor in the Department of Defense. He came to Homeland Security in 2010 as the deputy director of his office, and was promoted to his current position in 2011.

While with the Department of Defense, Chavez was responsible for leading the DOD’s largest, most comprehensive, and most extensive civil support mission ever in response to Hurricane Katrina.

During his time in Homeland Security, Chavez’s office has responded to several key events, most notably the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011.

Chavez’s first time back on campus was after leaving the Air Force and bringing his son back for a football game after 26 years. “It’s nice to see how much the university has grown,” he said. “I loved seeing the Pirate State of Mind logo.”

Chavez resides in Washington, D.C. and attends ECU events in the area when he can. He says he loves running into fellow Pirates, and always recommends East Carolina to those who may not have heard of it.

Chavez also holds a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, CA, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

By Jackie Drake

Member Spotlight: Captain David R. Herndon ’05

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Air Force Captain David R. Herndon ’05 knows a lot about service. He is dedicated to serving both his country and his alma mater.

Herndon is finishing up a deployment to Headquarters Resolute Support in Kabul, Afghanistan as the military assistant and aide-de-camp to the deputy chief of staff for strategic communication.

From his post in Afghanistan, Herndon recently joined the East Carolina Alumni Association as a Centennial Pirate, after being prompted by his father. Herndon says this is especially fitting since his father has been his example for his whole life.

“My father is my inspiration, role model, and best friend,” Herndon says. “I recall him taking me to plenty of air shows and visiting his reserve unit when I was growing up. He retired as a lieutenant colonel after more than 34 years of honorable service and every day, I salute him for sacrificing and showing me what it means to serve. When I go off on tangents about the greatness of ECU, he always asks what I’ve done recently to give back and ensure its greatness continues. I’m one of the proudest Pirates you’ll ever meet, so it was an easy decision to join the alumni association.”

Herndon enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program at ECU during his freshman year. Originally from the Triangle area, Herndon was considering out-of-state schools, but a visit to ECU and the Air Force ROTC detachment changed his mind. “I talked it over with my parents after that initial visit and we agreed ECU was the best decision. It remains one of the best journeys I’ve taken in my life,” he said.

Herndon earned his bachelor of science in communication. While at ECU, Herndon also served as student body vice president. Some of his favorite memories are those from the campaign trail with the Student Government Association. He also enjoyed his aerospace courses and leadership labs with the Air Force ROTC program.

“The School of Communication at ECU definitely put me on a solid track to support the rigors of handling international communication portfolios,” he said. “ECU not only gave me that foundation, but provided me with an opportunity to network and think globally when exploring communication concepts. My biggest takeaway from my undergraduate experience was the importance of continued life-long learning. There was a banner above the entrance of the Air Force ROTC detachment that read ‘Following Today, Leading Tomorrow, Learning Forever.’ I take that message with me everywhere I go.”

1560744_10102193065211753_1936797137953890315_nAfter his deployment, Herndon will return to the Pentagon where he works as a public affairs officer at Headquarters Air Force, with additional duty as a social aide to the president of the US with the White House Military Office.

By Jackie Drake