KEESLER AFB, BILOXI (WLOX) - Hundreds of college cadets converged at Keesler Air Force Base for it's "Pathways to Blue" diversity event on Friday.
The goal of the two-day event was to provide a glimpse into what its like to work for the Air Force. Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets got a rare glimpse into life on an actual Air Force base, including taking a ride in a gigantic C-17 aircraft .
Brendan Bailey, a cadet from University of Alabama says the experience was eye-opening.
"When we're on the University, we're not really getting to see the real Air Force...so being on a base and seeing people who are actually in the air force is kinda neat," said Bailey.
The program was put in place in 2015 in order to reach out to ROTC cadets, as well as enlisted personnel who are interested in becoming officers.
"I got tremendous feedback from the cadets and those in the professors of airspace studies, their leaders at other ROTC detachments, which is why we decided to do it again this year," said Maj. Gen. Mark Brown, Commander 2nd Air Force.
Participants had the opportunity to fly in aircraft, talk to pilots, watch cyber operations and learn about the intel and medical specialties fields. Part of the emphasis of the program was on attracting diversity, an aspect Air Force Diversity Leader Chevy Cleaves knows well.
"As an Air Force, we have to be able to have access to the talent that comes from all over the nation and then activate that talent on behalf of our Air Force to complete the missions that we're responsible for," said Cleaves.
A total of 250 cadets from schools all over the country took part in the event.
Brown noted, "What we want to tell these cadets is, the USAF welcomes you, we want you to become an airman, we don't want you to leave your heritage behind you when that happens, but our institution will welcome you regardless of where you come from or what race or gender you happen to be."