WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
More than 100 viewers tuned in to view the Air Force Materiel Command Cross-Cultural Mentoring Panel held virtually, May 17 in observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The panel featured individuals from across the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force and included Lt. Col. Lady Noreen Simmons, Chief, Capabilities Integration Branch, Headquarters, AFMC; Chang H. Suh, Principal Strategist for Organizational Culture, Headquarters, United States Space Force, Pentagon, Washington, DC; Brittanie Ngo, IT Project Manager, 412th Communications Squadron, Edwards AFB; Jeffrey J. Moore, Chief, Foreign Military Sales, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center; and Edward Yong, Test Branch Chief, Combatant Command C2 Division, AFLCMC.
Each panel member offered a unique perspective because of their career field, stage of life, and cultural background. Ngo, for example, immigrated from a divided and war-torn Vietnam as a baby. She worked in the private sector for many years before becoming an Air Force civilian just two years ago.
Other panelists have spent the majority of their careers with the U.S. Air Force, serving as uniformed servicemembers before becoming mentors themselves.
“We can use our experiences to help others, but before you can become a mentor or a mentee, you must be aware of your own biases and make a conscious effort to ignore those biases,” said Yong. “Become curious about different ideas, cultures and ways of doing things, and you can find potential in those differences.”
Each guest was given the chance to talk about their individual experiences as part of the AAPI community before the event was opened to questions from the audience.
“I find inspiration from my history, and I’ve found that all I have invested in the Air Force has resulted in them doing everything in their power to enable growth and career longevity,” said Ngo. “You need to demonstrate enthusiasm in everything you do—even introverts can do this.”
All mentioned challenges, but reiterated that hard work, passion and perseverance lead to their success. Finding mentors, whether they looked like them or not, was also of utmost importance.
“I feel there is a distinction between mentoring and coaching. Mentoring is telling someone how to do something from your own experiences,” said Suh. “Coaching is asking questions to unlock their own answers. Coaching can open the door to mentoring.”
The next mentoring panel will be June 7, held in conjunction with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month. For up-to-date event information and mentoring resources, visit https://www.afmc.af.mil/careers/AFMC-Mentoring/.
View the full video recording of this event: