I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1980. And that was the first coed class for all the service academies. And of course, there were people who probably didn't think women could do it, who would do it successfully, and complete the program. So I think that just maybe increased the level of pride and increased your awareness that women will come after you. And you know and you're confident that they'll be able to do it because you did it as well.
Being a woman here of the Air Force Academy feels like having a large group of brothers and sisters. It's an environment where people want to take care of each other and help each other to succeed.
I haven't really face any challenges being a female at the Air Force Academy. More than anything, it's really empowering because we're doing the same things as the guys are doing. Just working with them was fantastic. They had some of the same values I do. Really, that's more important than the whole gender divide.
Women, over time traditionally, have been attributed with talents like nurturing and collaborative skills. And I think those are exactly the things that we can bring to an organization that helps the organization grow and thrive.
People recognize that men and women are different physically and mentally. And there's things that both can bring.
When you think about the women that are here, are they proving themselves? I would have to say definitely, emphatically yes. They are smart. They are thoughtful. They are physically fit. They are perfect specimens of what we want our young leaders to be.
I would tell any female cadet that's coming in to be strong, know who you are, and be empowered by the role that you play here.
The Air Force Academy has been around for about 60 years. And when you think about the fact that we have women who are fighter pilots. We have women who have gone on to serve in Congress. We've had General Susan Helms who's now retired and she was an astronaut. We've had General Janet Wolfenbarger the very first female four star general in the Air Force. And so I think it really does speak to the fact that the Academy is not only developing leaders for the military but leaders for the nation.