Guam Cadets Tour Space Systems Command as part of SoCal Visit

  • Published
  • By Lisa Sodders, SSC Public Affairs

Twenty-six U.S. Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from John F. Kennedy High School in Tamuning, Guam, visited Space Systems Command on Wednesday, April 27.
The cadets, several of whom had never left Guam before, arrived in California on Monday in preparation for Saturday’s Golden Bear West Coast National Drill Meet competition in Torrance.
Retired USAF Lt. Col. Lane Gilchrist, founder and president of the STEM Coalition, who also volunteers with SSC’s STEM Outreach program, took the cadets on a tour of the Heritage Center at SSC, where they viewed the Armillary Sphere, various rocket models and an actual satellite that was built for the Defense Meterological Satellite Program, but never launched.
The cadets also met with a panel of SSC and Los Angeles Garrison service members and government civilians, including: 1st Lt. Issac B. Chung, intelligence analyst; Capt. Trever J. Braunberger, EGS Mission Manager; Valerie G. Robinson, NH-3, Core System Safety Manager; Dennis C. Graves, NH-4, SSC/ZAE Cross Mission Cyber; 1st Lt. Peter Potecha, lead, GPS III/IIIF Requirements Management, MilComm & PNT; and Tech. Sgt. Carlos Urcuyo and 1st Lt. Ciara Alison-Konteh, both health care administrators with the 61st Medical Squadron.
The panelists shared brief overviews of their careers and the diverse paths they took before meeting with the cadets in small groups and answering questions about various career options, including serving in the military or working with the military as a government civilian or contractor.
Jamie K. Regala, who served in the Army before her present position as executive assistant to SSC’s Executive Director, Joy M. White, said she likes working at SSC because it is innovative:
“This is a place where you can dream the unimaginable and then you have the opportunity to create things from scratch.”
With a 2022 population of more than 171k, Guam is a U.S. island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. John F. Kennedy High School is one of eight high schools on the island, and has a student population of about 1,800. Of those, about 230 are JROTC cadets.
Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Victor P. Rosario, the aerospace science instructor who accompanied the group noted that John F. Kennedy High School students must complete 75 hours of community service prior to graduation but some of the cadets complete 100 hours in their first year. 
Cadet Gessica Dancel, 17, said her older brother had joined JROTC and after seeing how much he enjoyed the program, she decided to join, too. She is still weighing her options for her future, but thinks she may go to college first. 
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, so I’m trying to learn about everything and see what I like,” she said.
Cadet Catherine Farrer, 15, said she joined JROTC because “I really admired their leadership program; I admired how community oriented it is. Especially during Covid: I had a lot of trouble putting myself out there, making friends, being able to properly function in social environments, because of the isolation. I found that JROTC really helped me, because it was so community oriented.”
As part of their SoCal visit, the cadets also toured the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum on Monday and will visit Disneyland on Sunday before returning to Guam.
For many students, the best part of their visit to California so far is the mild temperatures. Cadets Dancel and Farrer appreciated the California weather, which was much cooler than what they had left behind in Guam.
“California is not what I expected,” said Dancel. “It’s way better, especially the weather. It’s so cold here, which is what I like the most – in Guam, it’s really hot so if you stand outside, you’re immediately sweating.”
Air Force Junior ROTC is a Title 10 US Code mandated citizenship training program that is designed to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service, instill personal responsibility, character, and self-discipline. The program achieves this through classroom education in air and space fundamentals and hands-on learning opportunities in a number of fun and challenging extra-curricular activities. The program is not a recruitment program; students who participate are under no obligation to join the military upon graduation.