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Leaders are made not born

  • Published
  • By Lewis Lambert
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Tech. Sgt. Sharon Minnick was awarded the Air Force’s Enlisted Professional Military Educator NCO of the year over 387 eligible NCOs in the 8T career field. Minnick is one of five ALS instructors assigned to Dyess Air Force Base. The 8T career field is a selectively manned throughout the Air Force.

Once selected, Airmen must undergo four weeks of training, usually at Maxwell AFB, but because of COVID restrictions, Minnick took the course online to become a certified instructor. The commitment for an ALS instructor is three years with a possible one-year extension if their primary career field releases them. Minnick is a Pharmacy Technician, and due to manning requirements, she wasn’t allowed to extend.

There are 68 bases in the Air Force that deliver ALS training, so competition for the Air Force’s highest NCO instructor award is extremely competitive. Minnick’s mentor and supervisor is Master Sgt. Kyle Gibson who nominated her for the award.

“I've had the privilege to watch her students’ growth and development under her guidance during their five weeks at ALS. Her past students consistently reach out to her for mentorship because of the positive impact she's had on them. In the classroom, she uses her real-world experiences to hammer home the lesson concepts in our curriculum,” Gibson said.

Dyess ALS is a required step for new leaders; Senior Airmen with a line number for staff sergeant and at least four years of service. Their experiences over those four years are different. Due to the nature of their individual career fields and the influences of their leaders, they are a diverse group of students that should undergo self-reflection to determine what they must change about themselves. The purpose of ALS is to enhance growth to become leaders with an ability to give advice to others.

The role of an ALS instructor is extremely important as Minnick is developing tomorrow's leaders. She knows that the first-line supervisor is critical to the success of our young Airmen. Additionally, she knows that a lot of the time young Airmen decide to stay in or leave the Air Force based on how effective their supervisor is. So, she's critical in equipping these new supervisors with skills that help them be effective.

Minnick has undergone her own self-reflection and change during her tenure as an ALS instructor. Through course delivery training and interaction with a diverse group of students, she grew as a leader. She refined her skills when it came to facilitating tough discussions in the academic environment which she demonstrates in her calm, tactful, approach to instruction today.

Many ALS students haven’t committed to go beyond their initial enlistment at the time they attend ALS. Minnick knows she has an opportunity to influence her students’ career choice.

One of Minnick’s recent students, Staff Sgt. Cody Hickman, attached to the 24th Fighter Squadron, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, was especially effusive.

“Tech. Sgt. Minnick was the best NCO I’ve had so far. Having her as my instructor was awesome.”

When informed that Minnick was awarded the Air Force’s Enlisted PME NCO of the year, he said, “She deserved it.”

“I’ve had Airmen that didn’t know whether they would re-enlist and some that were going to leave. I am extremely happy when students that were planning to leave tell me after completing the course that they decided to re-enlist,” Minnick said.