W students Tyler Cutrer and Corey Persons traveled to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., on April 6 to attend a two-day “Pathways to Blue” event.
Cutrer and Persons are both part of the Mississippi State University Air Force ROTC detachment. “Pathways to Blue” is a relatively new program designed to help cadets learn about different career paths and establish connections with Air Force officers in their fields.
For Cutrer, a Nursing and Public Health major who just joined ROTC this semester, it was his first time on an Air Force base.
“I got a better look into military life and kind of what that entails,” said Cutrer. “It was excellent getting to see that and kind of getting to see where I’d fit in to the military, and how it’d fit into my life as well.”
Cutrer learned about different options for nurses in the Air Force, some of which he wasn’t aware of before attending the “Pathways to Blue” event. He was especially interested to learn that he could pursue a career as a nurse for CCAT, or Critical Care Air Transport, which he described as being like “a flying ICU.”
More than 170 cadets from across the Southeast attended the event. Cadets had the opportunity to tour different units on base, depending on their desired career paths, and they were addressed by several Air Force leaders, including Maj. Gen. Robert Labrutta, commander of the Second Air Force.
Persons, a Communication major, joined ROTC three years ago as a freshman.
“I had no intention of ever being in the military at all. That was not on my radar,” Persons said.
He needed a 2-credit course to complete his schedule. Soon, however, he came to realize that he wanted to pursue the Air Force as a career.
“I think the Air Force has limitless opportunity, and when people take that opportunity and seize it, it can take you to places you’ve never been before,” said Persons. “Plus, job security—if you get into the Air Force, they’re going to find a place for you. And when you get out, there’s going to be a job for you.”
ROTC cadets learn about the military and its history, participate in physical training and are trained to become leaders. They take turns assuming different leadership roles, including that of academic officer, physical fitness officer and flight commander.
“I’ve had to take a step in each one of those roles, and that’s really helped me become more confident in my military bearing, as well as in other areas of my life,” Cutrer said.
The Air Force ROTC program is open to everyone, even those who aren’t yet sure if an Air Force career is for them. Any questions may be directed to the Mississippi State ROTC office at 662-325-3810.
Photo by Austin Haney.