An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

332nd AEW honors women’s history month

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Krystal Wright
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

As part of honoring Women’s History Month, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing hosted a dinner at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia March 24, 2018.

Women’s History Month is observed in March and this year’s theme is “Honoring women who fight all forms of discrimination against women.”

There were three guest speakers at the dinner: U.S. Air Force Capt. Jessica Niswonger, 336th Expeditionary Wing assistant chief and lead weapons system officer; U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Rochelle Hemingway, 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group chief enlisted manager; and U.S. Army Maj. Catalina Rosales, 1st Battalion 7th Air Defense Artillery Battalion executive officer.

Each speaker spoke about the challenges they in their life while also focusing on a specific topic.

Niswonger’s speech was about persistence and perseverance. At one point in her life, she was living in a cheap apartment in the bad part of town on an air mattress, had dropped out college and was working two jobs. Her uncle encouraged her to join the JROTC, which in turn lead to her desire flying the F-15E Strike Eagle.

“I never gave up and I didn’t listen when people told me ‘I couldn’t’,” she said. “The first time I shared my dream to a stranger … the older gentleman looked directly at me and said ‘women can’t do that’ ... Shocked, I think, was my first reaction, but then I was like ‘you know what, I am still going to work this job, I am going to earn this man’s tip and use it to get to my dream.’”

“I am hoping that by sharing my story, the next time a little kid around you sees that beautiful Strike Eagle … that you will say, ‘You know what, you can do that too. You just got to keep working hard and persevere and don’t listen if someone tells you that you can’t,’” she added.

Hemingway, on the other hand, focused on the importance of healthy living and balancing life, and how to be successful.

“Today, it is possible to balance being a wife, a mom and still have a career,” she said. “You will all experience difficulties and face adversities throughout your career regardless of your gender, race, ethnic background or religious (beliefs). We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

“The most resilient and impressive leaders I know have found ways to be courageous in the face of great adversity, its like challenges lift them up instead of knocking them down,” she continued.

The final speaker, Rosales, concluded the evening by talking about embracing and inspiring change. She and her family immigrated from Mexico and she arrived not knowing any English, which made school and making friends a struggle. While in college, she created a committee that organized the first East Texas Latino Conference, which focused on empowering young women from disadvantage backgrounds.  Later in life, she struggled with accepting herself and her sexual orientation along with the fear of not being accepted, and of losing her support and the love of her friends and family.

“Change is daunting and scary because when we are comfortable in our zone, the mind wonders ‘why do anything different? I am ok,’ but we don’t want to be just ‘ok,” she said. “Ok doesn’t turn dreams and aspirations into reality. No one should wake up in the morning and say ‘I really want to just be ok,’ Tomorrow we should all wake up and say ‘Today, I want to be great.’ But you don’t get to ‘great’ from shying away from change.”

“Change is a powerful catalyst for limitless opportunities that are sometimes out of the paradigms of what we believe is within our reach. It’s very powerful.”