Female AFROTC Commanders Take WingNov. 4, 1999
Wing Commander Summer Davis, a senior speech pathology major from Adkins, Texas, and Vice Wing Commander Elsa Hernandez, a senior biology major from Houston, were chosen to lead the 100-strong Baylor corps after an interview with the board of commanders in the spring.
Maj. Randy Jacobs, commandant of cadets at Baylor, said that gender had nothing to do with the board's decision. "We pick the best team," he said.
Davis and Hernandez said they were not surprised by their promotions and knew they would make a good team because of their strong friendship. The cadets also feel that their promotion are examples of the changing armed forces. "It is no longer a male[-dominated] service," Davis said. "In many areas, you want to have a female, [so] society is changing to be gender equal."
Hernandez said gender has not been an issue in the Baylor AFROTC, which is 35 percent female. The top three positions are currently held by women, as are half of the flight commander and squad leader positions. "In our class women have played the big roles," Hernandez said. Davis said becoming Wing Commander was never a goal for her until she became Vice Wing Commander last semester. She joined the AFROTC because her brother, who is a Baylor AFROTC graduate, advised her to try it for a semester. After one semester, Davis said she loved the program and decided to stay. "I love what I do," she said.
As a freshman, Hernandez also did not aspire to be one of the top commanders. However, as she got older, she observed what worked and what didn't work, and that is what encouraged her to apply for a leadership position. Although she originally joined the AFROTC for the scholarship, Hernandez said she has learned more about herself from being in AFROTC.
"I have to keep my sense of humor, and sleep is essential," said Hernandez, who also credits AFROTC with sharpening her organizational skills and teaching her how to handle stress. She also feels more comfortable speaking in front of large groups.
Although the commanders do not see themselves as role models, they do realize that they are watched closely by other cadets. "You never think of it, you just do your job," Davis said. "But others can look at us and say 'Hey, it can be done!' We make the goal more achievable."
Following graduation, AFROTC students serve a minimum of four years in the service. Davis would like to be in the Medical Service Corps while Hernandez would like to be placed in personnel. Neither commander is sure though if they will make the Air Force a career. "When I stop having fun, then I'll get out," Davis said.
Both commanders value their AFROTC experience and enjoy watching new cadets go through the same training they did.
"It's an experience I wouldn't give up for the world," Davis said.