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Smart start: 2009 education opportunities paved for travel for Airmen.

Similar to a freeway, the education path in the Air Force branches off to many highways and biways of discovery--often the road less traveled can make the journey smoother.

For 2009, officers can embark on several educational travels with the help of scholarship programs.

THE OLMSTED SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The Olmsted Scholarship Program offers two-year, foreign-language educational grants at universities in foreign countries across the globe. Selected Olmsted scholars enroll as full-time students and interact with locals from countries like China and Romania.

"I started my graduate degree in International Relations and European Studies at a Romanian university this week," said Maj. lames Price, Olmsted scholar and combat aviator. "All of my classes are in Romanian, and I am surviving. I actually know what they are saying, and my colleagues and professors have all commented on the quality of my Romanian.

"There is still much to do before I and others will consider myself fluent, but I am progressing rapidly," said Major Price.

Using the Olmsted program, Major Price is expected to live on the economy of Romania while exploring the country. While there, he will be connected to U.S. embassies and consulates for administrative and force protection issues. This, with advancement in the language, helps students get to know Romanian culture beyond the tourist attractions.

"My language skills have allowed me to gain the confidence and friendship of my neighbors, friends and associates here in Romania," he said. "We are now just part of the neighborhood and that has opened doors into cultural understanding and acceptance.

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"We have learned to view the world differently. We have listened to the viewpoints of others and learned about distinct foreign cultures and histories that are new for us," said Major Price. "Most of all, we have learned that everyone is a lot like us once you look a little deeper and get to know them. They have the same desires, dreams, obstacles and fears."

The major, who is married, gets to know the locals with his family, who accompanied him on this journey. Married scholar's spouses also receive grants for language training and to counter balance the costs involved in support of the Olmsted Scholarship Program.

"Another benefit to this program is that we are accomplishing all of this as a family. We spend most of our time outside of school together," said Major Price. "We travel together, we learn the language together, and we overcome all the challenges of living in a foreign country together. We have become a tighter and stronger family because of the good times and the challenges. The operations tempo back in the regular Air Force was hard on the family and did not provide for a lot of quality time. Our family is enjoying this experience together."

With the support of his family and the immersion into this foreign culture, Major Price said he feels confident this will help him grow as a leader in the Air Force. Officers who participate in the Olmsted program gain useful experience and may be assigned upon completion to command positions or other high-level assignments, including NATO, joint commands, or with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"I am developing many intangible skills related to foreign languages, historical understanding, cultural sensitivities and diplomacy," he said. "All of this coupled with my experience as a combat aviator, weapons school graduate, and proven leader will only help make me a better Air Force leader in the future.

"The Air Force spent the last 11 years teaching me how to be the best combat leader and aviator I can be," he said. "This program now allows me to broaden my narrow focus of the past few years

For more information about the Olmsted Scholarship Program, visit www.olmstedfoundation.org.

INFORMATION ASSURANCE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

The Information Assurance Scholarship program offers complete scholarship support to selected officers and enlisted Airmen looking to receive graduate certificates and degrees in information assurance areas.

The IAS program includes tuition, allowance, a paid part-time internship and full-time employment opportunities upon graduation.

The IAS offers undergraduate degrees in computer science and applied information technology, and five Master's of Science degrees in information security and assurance, information systems, software engineering, computer science, and computer engineering. The program also offers a Ph.D. in information technology or computer science focusing on information security.

"I have found the program to be very beneficial to improving my technical proficiency and professional knowledge," said 1st Lt. Thomas Moore, IAS student. "As we move into this cyberspace domain, I'll be asked to perform skills that I wouldn't have known how to do without this program. This program has given me the technical background I'll need in order to be successful."

During breaks in their academic studies, information assurance scholars receive progressive, hands-on experience in information security internships at Department of Defense agencies. In return, scholars must agree to some restrictions and obligations regarding curriculum, GPA and post-program employment. If all conditions are met, information assurance scholars receive full-time permanent positions with the Department of Defense upon program completion.

Lieutenant Moore wasn't sure if he would be accepted into the program, but now he advises Airmen to apply and take advantage.

"The experience of being here has opened my eyes to all the education opportunities open to Airmen. I was hesitant to apply, thinking I wouldn't be accepted, but I'm proof that sometimes you can reach your goals if you just try. It has provided me the opportunity to complete my second master's degree. My first was earned through tuition assistance," he said.

Lieutenant Moore encourages Airmen to explore the path of the IAS program as well as other educational routes he discovered while in the Air Force.

"If you count my (Community College of the Air Force degree), bachelor's degree, and both master's degrees, it'll mark four degrees I've earned with little to no education expense to me because I've made the most of the education opportunities afforded to Airmen by the government. And to think I've only been in for eight years makes it seem almost impossible," he said. "It's not impossible, as long as an Airman knows what the opportunities are and takes the time to take advantage of them," he said. "I'll take the knowledge learned here and apply it in my Air Force career immediately upon graduation."

The program also provided the lieutenant with some AF culture he had not been exposed to previously. The IAS program is not just for communications officers. Enlisted Airmen, pilots, navigators, personnel officers and individuals from other specialties also attend on the scholarship.

"This diverse group of Air Force people has given us the opportunity to gain different perspectives of the overall transition into the cyberspace domain that we wouldn't have been given if we were in our typical Air Force assignments," said Lieutenant Moore.

For more information on the Information Assurance Scholarship program, visit www.defenselink.mil/cio-nii/iasp/index.htm/.

WHITE HOUSE FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship program chooses 11-19 highly motivated Americans each year to gain first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government.

Members normally spend one year operating as special assistants to senior White House staff, cabinet secretaries, the vice president or other top-ranking government officials on a full-time basis with pay.

"Given the challenges and opportunities facing the country, it's critically important that we develop the best leaders possible with this program," said Janet Eissenstat, the director of the President's Commission on White House Fellows.

"People who have been through the program say it's a life changing experience, and it exceeded their expectations," said Ms. Eissenstat. "They learn a great deal from the experience as well as from other classmates. For example, the current (group of program participants) has an oncologist, microbiologist, F-l6 pilot and others; it's a very diverse mix of people."

The program also includes an educational section allowing the Fellows to meet with leaders such as foreign heads of state, Supreme Court judges, members of Congress and the President.

According to Ms. Eissenstat, members meet twice a year in the Oval Office where they can ask the President questions.

Fellows also travel to cities and regions outside of Washington D.C., and to other countries to see U.S. policy in action, to learn about other cultures, and to see the U.S. and the federal government from differing points of view.

"Every class picks a two-week international trip," said Ms. Eissenstat. Last year, it was Russia and Turkey."

What is learned from the trips and the rest of the program adds to the expertise of the members.

The program staff is available to provide assistance and answer questions. The staff can be reached Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. eastern time at 202-395-4522.

For more information about the White House Fellowship program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/ fellows/

MANSFIELD FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

The Mansfield Fellowship Program gives selected U.S. federal employees the chance to develop an in-depth understanding of Japan and the Japanese government by attending two years of study in Washington D.C., and Japan.

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During the first year. in Washington D.C., members receive fulltime training in the Japanese language including presentation instruction, history, culture, economics and in the government of Japan.

Members spend the second year in Japan where they work full time in agencies of the Japanese government and participate in continued language, education and administrative training. The efforts in Japan help members learn how the Japanese address issues similar to those of their U.S. counterparts.

"Alumni Fellows often tell us their Mansfield Fellowship was one of the best experiences of their lives." said Margo Grimm Eule, director of communications for the Mansfield Foundation. "They value the experience of living in Japan and gaining practical experience in the Japanese government. They appreciate the relevance of the experience to their government service. Many alumni Fellows returning from Japan have been promoted or assigned to federal government positions with direct responsibility for issues involving Japan.

"It's rewarding to hear not only how they have applied the expertise gained during their fellowships, but also how they have benefited from the perspective gained and friendships made during their year in Japan," she said. "I think these Fellows would agree that there is no substitute for being in Japan and working with their counterparts in these ministries. The insights, expertise and contacts they gained during their year in Japan have benefited their Japan-related work on behalf of the Air Force and helped further the partnership between the U.S. and Japan."

Following their year in Japan, members return to work for the U.S. government service for a minimum of two years, using their new expertise and network of contacts to benefit the agency in Japan-related work.

"Alumni Fellows who return to federal government positions with direct responsibility for issues involving Japan are able to draw on their understanding of Japan and the contacts they made here to find ways our countries can coordinate and cooperate on critical issues like the security alliance, trade, and health care policy," said Ms. Eule.

"This is what the fellowship program is all about--building bridges and strengthening cooperation and understanding between the U.S. and Japan," she said.

For more information, on the Mansfield Fellowship program, visit www.mansfieldfdn.org.

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Author:McGovern, Matthew
Publication:Airman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Words:1892
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