Students prepare for take off

United States Air Force holds recruitment event for students at BVH


Valerie Torres

Air Force recruiters answer BVH senior as he approaches them in the Bonita Vista High counseling center o Feb. 23.

On Feb. 23, students eagerly lined up inside the Bonita Vista High (BVH) Counseling Center to talk to United States Air Force members. The event informs students about the potential option to join the Air Force after high school. Students who attended the event were able to have one-on-one conversations with members of the air force to get more information about the career.

Among the four Air Force representatives talking to students was Staff Sergeant Russell Olaes. Recruiting officers in the Air Force are assigned to recruit students at different schools across San Diego county; Olaes is assigned to BVH. Olaes explains that it is important students are aware of their option to join the Air Force because of all the educational and personal benefits students can receive.

“It’s important they know about all of their options and potential benefits, a huge thing with joining the Air Force is being enrolled into community college debt free and still being able to continue your education. So, there’s a lot of financial and personal support,” Olaes says.

Students must be 17 years old or older to start the process of joining the military, but the event was open to all grade levels. Olaes informs students about the Air Force as soon as possible is important because it allows students to start the process to join sooner.

“Any juniors who are 17 years of age are able to really talk about and begin the process, so going into senior year we know which are on track to graduate and really begin that process,” Olaes said, “I recommend starting senior year because we can narrow down in eligibility and what your strong suits are and if we can match you with the airforce.”

We want to give them a more accurate depiction of what the career is like because there are more jobs than just pilot.

— United States Air Force Airman Carlos Rubio

The event allowed students to get a more in depth look at what a career in the Air Force would focus on. For example, Airman for the United States Air Force Carlos Rubio shares that many students considering joining the airforce have misconceptions of what role they would be working as.

“The main thing we tell students is about the many different jobs in the Air Force. A lot of the kids we talk to want to be pilots, but it’s a huge misconception that all members of the Air Force are pilots. We want to give them a more accurate depiction of what the career is like because there are more jobs than just pilot. For example, we have officers that deal with cyberspace and technology,” Rubio says.

Senior Justin Bonilla attends the event to get more information about becoming a pilot in the Air Force, a career he was considering prior to the event. Bonilla found the event helpful because it gave him more clarity on the process of joining the Air Force Academy and achieving the position of pilot. He also learned about potential alternatives.

“I was already interested before the meeting in being a pilot. So, when I heard that there was going to be a presentation I thought it’d be a good opportunity to learn more about potentially what I was going [to] be doing in the future,” Bonilla said. “I wasn’t really sure of the other options but now that I went to this meeting, I’m kind of considering going to [the] Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college.”

While the event was very informative, Bonilla adds that the event was also a good experience to get to know members of the Air Force. He explains that many people view members of the military in a negative light that makes them seem overly aggressive. However, talking to them personally allowed him and others to see past these intimidating stereotypes.

“I think people get a misconception about how people are in the military, which makes them intimidated. They have this image of military officers being aggressive and yelling all the time, but talking to them makes you realize it’s a bunch of college kids and high school kids in there with you,” Bonilla said. “So, I think people should not be so scared because there are so many people in the military who are really just like you.”

Overall, Olaes believes that the Air Force is a good option for students after college and hopes this event is successful in showing students all the benefits they can gain from joining. Olaes especially emphasizes the personal growth members make through the valuable experiences of the Air Force.

“The Air Force helps you become a better person which we hope students realize through this event,” Olaes said. “There are a lot of great experiences from being a part of the team like growing yourself as a person and becoming a leader. Something that the Air Force is very big about is becoming a better version of yourself which we want them to know.”