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‘Mahalo LEAP’

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  • By 2d Lt Brianna Nelson

If you were to ask the Air Force Culture and Language Center’s Director, Mr. Howard Ward what would be one of his top three ingredients to making a great LEAP scholar, one guaranteed answer would be energy and Major Charlynne “Char” McGinnis has plenty of it. Her personality and presence can be felt as soon as she enters the room and her smile captivates an audience.

And as she sat down in Mr. Ward’s office on a cool winter afternoon, telling him and some of the Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) team members about her latest adventures, she once again had everyone’s attention. Starring at the many collectors’ items in Mr. Ward’s offices, McGinnis talked about some of the things she’s gathered over the years. According to McGinnis, she has a board in her office that is “Char’s Jumbled Thoughts Board,” however one would be surprised what a jumbled thought board and a few conversations could have the capacity to produce.

“It’s always good to come together and discuss how we can leverage and integrate LEAP scholars in our Air Force operations, activities and investments globally,” she said.

This time, McGinnis was talking to the AFCLC team about how she and a few other members of the A5 Strategy and Plans Branch identified a need and a means to execute. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. As such, McGinnis looked at history to build the framework for how they can continue to strengthen alliances and build new relationships in the region, aligned with the National Defense Strategy.  

McGinnis’ grandfather was a WWII veteran who served alongside the United States Armed Forces in the Far East under General Douglas MacArthur. “Nothing is the limit” Major Char McGinnis stated as she challenged other Pacific LEAP scholars to look at their piece of the world and see where they need a change and how we can make that change happen. All it takes to change your world is just a little energy. At the end of the day, it boils down to the people-to-people connections that LEAP scholars make.

“Mahalo LEAP for giving us the opportunity to maintain our language skills and for allowing us to reconnect with our roots,” McGinnis said.

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