Mentors advise Airmen during speed-style discussion Published May 3, 2023 By Matthew McGovern 16th Air Force JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO- KELLY, Texas -- Thirteen mentors from the 16th Air Force and various other military units guided more than 60 Airmen through a speed-mentoring session, Friday. The mentors ranged from active duty to retired Air Force and encompassed both enlisted and officer ranks. “I’ve relied on mentors my entire career, not just my professional life but also my personal life,” said Col. Darrell DeSalme, 688th Cyberspace Wing individual mobilization Augmentee. “I’ve had multiple mentors over the years, and I understand you don’t reach your full potential if you don’t have support from them.” DeSalme continued, “Seek guidance; you can only get so far on your own knowledge. It’s better to talk to someone who’s been through what you’re about to go through. It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you don’t know.” The mentors discussed several themes including personal growth, situational advice, professional development as well as describing their motivations to the junior enlisted and officer attendees. “My ‘why’ gets redefined almost every year,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Solis, 834th Cyberspace Operations Squadron senior enlisted leader. “My ‘why’ right now is knowing there is a potential future fight with near peer adversaries, and I need to get our Airmen ready and help them conceptually embrace what we could be up against.” The interactions were in ten-minute intervals with each mentor and allowed participants to come away with new perspectives. “I’ve learned from this event to surround yourself with people who will help you grow, not just people who you like,” said Staff Sgt. Sera Perkins, 616th Operations Center chief’s executive non-commissioned officer. “I also learned to realize the lessons from your failures. It’s important not to be critical of yourself but ask what I can do to grow.” “Besides mentors, I also learned to look for champions; mentors can help you grow but champions can help you find what you’re good at and feed into that,” said Perkins. One of the event coordinators, Staff Sgt. Lauren Potthoff, from the 616th Operations Center, summed up the importance of mentoring sessions in a speech during the event. “This is a celebration of mentorship,” said Potthoff. “Mentorship is about investing in the future of our Air Force and our nation. It’s about helping the next generation of Airmen develop the skill, knowledge, and character they need to lead with honor and distinction.