Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

April 29, 2012 at 3:49am

446th Reservist earns AFA award for pursuing higher education

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When Jen White worked with the active-duty Air Force, she eventually wanted to pursue a career in business. But when the staff sergeant from the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron here came across diet technician opening with the Reserve, her long-term dream didn't change direction, it just took a slight detour.

After falling in love with her new Reserve career and developing a passion of healthcare White, who also works as a diet technician at Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, decided to hybridize her dreams of business and healthcare into one career

In order to do that, she would need help in finishing her bachelor's degree in human resource management, which she had already started while on active duty. Last week, this support came in the form of the Pitsenbarger Award, was presented to her, April 24 at the Education Center here, by a representative of the Air Force Association.

"She certainly deserves this award," said Col. Rob Richardson, 446th ASTS commander. "She's committed almost to a fault. She's a huge benefit for our Reservists to have that kind of involvement, not just to our squadron, but to the wing."

The Pitsenbarger Award is for Community College of the Air Force graduates, who are pursuing a bachelor's degree as well. The award also comes with a $400 check as an incentive to continue education.

White plans on using her award to prompt newer Airmen to follow in her footsteps.

"I am pretty dang proud to receive this award, mostly because not a lot of people know about it and now I can help out my new troops and give them another reason to obtain their CCAF," said the University Place resident.

White lays out her long-term strategy.

"I am pretty close to finishing my degree," said White, who entered the Air Force in 2005. "I plan to finish my bachelor's degree in human resource management and obtain a commission and go back on active duty. I'm also considering getting my master's in Healthcare Administration."

While education is at the forefront of her personal plan, Richardson explains why she's an asset to her unit.

"Jen single handedly took over our fitness program when she didn't have to, and ensured we'd have continuity with our fitness," he said. "She taught the nutrition class to wing Reservists, so they would have the tools to stay within the Air Force fitness standard."

Even with the tough responsibilities, White volunteers for her in squadron, she doesn't hesitate to acknowledge her fellow teammates in supporting her goals.

"I'd like to add a token of thanks to my unit and fantastic (air reserve technician) staff," White said. "They have been very supportive and it's a great environment to grow in."

Richardson gives White his stamp of approval by reciprocating.

"She's the poster child for 'service before self'," he said. "She's a dedicated warrior in all aspects!"

Photo: Staff Sgt. Jen White, a diet technician with the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, McChord Field, Wash., accepts her Pitsenbarger Award from Mr. Bill Striegel, from the Air Force Association, at the Education Center here, April 24, 2012. The Pitsenbarger is awarded to recent Community College of the Air Force graduates, who are pursuing bachelor's degrees White was the only Reservist at McChord Field who earned the award this cycle. (Courtesy photo)

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