MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
SHAW AIR FORCE BACE, SC – Finding an educational program with flexibility to wait for an applicant is nearly impossible, according to Capt. Huston Matheus. So imagine his surprise when he discovered the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Language Enabled Airman Program would wait for him and his busy schedule?
Earlier this summer, Matheus was in Tucson at Davis-Monthan when he noticed someone wearing an AFCLC shirt. Having been part of LEAP since 2014, Matheus recognized the logo, so he approached the gentleman, who happened to be AFCLC Director Howard Ward.
“We started talking, and I told him I did my first immersion in Lima, Peru, for 30 days in 2016, and my second one in 2018 in Bogota for 48 days,” Matheus explained. “Just focusing on the language and the culture was a fantastic reintroduction to the immersion process because, before that, I just focused on training. With language, if you don’t use it, you lose it. That was a wonderful refresher to help stay fluent.”
A busy flight and training schedule keeps him on his toes. Still, Matheus’ concerns often settle on whether he can continue his language and culture studies – with a possible FAO future – as well as his progression in the aviation community. With squadron officer school behind him and weapons school on the horizon, it felt as though his AFCLC studies would have to take a back seat for a very long time.
“I’ve been interested in the FAO field for a long time but especially being able to blend foreign area officer capabilities with my normal career field of being a pilot. This was what was attractive to me about LEAP,” Matheus said. “One thing Mr. Ward said that stuck with me was, ‘you’re exactly the type of officer we’re looking for in this program, so go to weapons school and finish up the tactical programs in your community, and we’ll wait for you.’ That ‘we’ll wait for you’ was important because I’m very committed to my aircraft and my community. His support for my community and me was a big deal because that signifies AFCLC is truly a broadening program and not an ‘Oh-you-can’t-commit-to-this-right-now-so-sorry program.”
Matheus said AFCLC’s flexibility and willingness to be accommodating to Airmen and their often-harried schedules is a major draw to the program. This, Matheus said, is also something many don’t realize is available.
“To have a career-broadening program that’s this accommodating is something special,” Matheus said. “It’s streamlined, and you go at your own pace without a lot of extra red tape. It’s kind of like a fire-and-forget missile if you will. You can be in this program, do your classes, and continue doing your traditional job as well. It’s a great parallel program that you’re able to be invested in without detracting from your primary community and still forward your career.”
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