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Olmsted Scholar program selects GPS captain

Capt. Lewis Vaughn III's official Air Force photo

Capt. Lewis Vaughn III's official Air Force photo

Los Angeles Air Force Base -- Capt. Lewis Vaughn III, a systems engineer in the GPS Wing, has been selected as an Olmsted Scholar.

The Olmsted Scholar program was established by Gen. George Olmsted in 1957 with the first class selected in 1959. A retired major general, Gen. Olmsted intended the program to provide a broad education for young U.S. career line officers who exhibit extraordinary potential for future military leadership.

According to Olmsted Foundation's website, the objective of the program is "to provide outstanding young military leaders an unsurpassed opportunity to achieve fluency in a foreign language, pursue graduate study at an overseas university, and acquire an in depth understanding of foreign cultures, thereby further equipping them to serve in positions of great responsibility as senior leaders in the United States Armed Forces."

Each year, the competitive program offers scholars two-year grants for graduate study in a foreign language and other educational experiences in a foreign country. This year, the Olmsted Foundation selected 27 career line officers from all four branches of the U.S. military, including nine from the Air Force, as the 50th class of Olmsted Scholars.

Nominated by their military services, Olmsted scholars enroll as full-time students and usually study in a language other than English while interacting with the residents of the countries in which they are living. They are expected to live on the economies of their host countries, travel widely and connect with U.S. embassies or consulates only for necessary force protection and administrative purposes.

As an Olmsted Scholar, Captain Vaughn will attend one year of intense Mandarin language study at the Defense Language Institute followed by two years of graduate study in Nanjing, China.

"I am interested in studying in China because of the increased political and economic role China is assuming and its recent reemergence on the global stage. China is the most populous country and it has an ancient and storied history that I am eager to study," said Vaughn. 

Upon completion of the Olmsted Program, Captain Vaughn will be designated as a Regional Affairs Strategist (RAS) as part of the Air Force's International Affairs Specialist (IAS) Program. The IAS Program is a Force Development initiative that offers selected Airmen the opportunity to develop expertise in key international skills. IAS-designated officers are provided specific education/training and then further development through high-visibility IAS assignments (e.g. COCOM, MAJCOM, HAF).

Captain Vaughn earned a bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from Cornell University. He was in the AFROTC program, a varsity soccer starter, a resident advisor, a teaching assistant, a research assistant, and a Quill and Dagger member. As the spectrum manager for GPS, Captain Vaughn is a representative for the GPS system at the International Telecommunication Union, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland to ensure international radio frequency protection of the faint GPS signals. He also promotes radio frequency compatibility as a member of U.S. delegations through bi-lateral talks with other satellite navigation providers including Europe, China, Japan, and India.

Captain Vaughn is very excited about the program. "I feel very lucky and fortunate to be selected for this prestigious program. I intend to study international relations at the Hopkins-Nanjing center. It's a one of a kind program in China that brings together both Chinese and international students in one program to learn about Chinese and American government, politics, and history. The Chinese students take classes in English from international professors and the international students learn about China from a Chinese perspective through classes taught by Chinese professors in Mandarin."