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LEAP Spotlight: Tech Sgt. Trymaine Kelley

Spanish Language Enabled Airman Program Scholar Tech. Sgt. Trymaine Kelley immersed himself in the Hispanic culture through the art of cooking. (Courtesy photo)

Spanish Language Enabled Airman Program Scholar Tech. Sgt. Trymaine Kelley immersed himself in the Hispanic culture through the art of cooking. (Courtesy photo)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

“After high school, I went to college to play basketball. After getting hurt and unable to play, I joined the Air Force. I am an Air Traffic Controller, which is the best job in the Air Force. I’ve been in the Air Force for more than 14 years now and stationed in Texas, Japan, England, Turkey and now Arkansas.

“My language journey originally began in elementary school. During that time, we were required to take a foreign language. I further enhanced my language ability by taking three years of foreign language in high school and another year in college. Even with all of that, I learned more from my Language Intensive Training Events and eMentor trainings in the Language Enabled Airman Program.

“I always enjoy challenging myself and learning new things, so I frequently browse the Air Force portal to find new and interesting opportunities. I found LEAP on the portal one day when I was looking for my next opportunity. What interested me about LEAP was the possibility of becoming fluent in a language. I had been trying for years to get 2’s on the Defense Language Proficiency Test. I was trying to learn on my own, but I didn’t have the motivation to stay consistent. To me, LEAP was a way to hold myself accountable and visit some countries I wanted to visit anyway.

“Before my last Permanent Change of Station, I utilized my LEAP training to coordinate with a Spanish battalion I was stationed with. I would interact, translate, and help my U.S. counterparts build strong professional work relationships with the Spanish military. I currently use my LEAP experiences to get others involved in both LEAP and other Air Force programs. LEAP is a gateway that can open up people’s careers to new and exciting opportunities. The new things you can do will be the very thing that sets you apart when it’s time for promotions and awards. Such opportunities include humanitarian efforts, embassy assignments, translator taskings and many others. 

“Being a LEAP Scholar is life-changing. Just recently, I re-took the DLPT test, and I got my highest scores ever. Now, not only do I get paid extra to know a language, but I also get to help out the Air Force and support missions I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. I have been to Costa Rica, Mexico City, and Miami on LITEs. I have made lifelong friends on each trip and experienced cultures in a way that wouldn’t be possible without LEAP. I am very happy to be in the program, and I plan to stay in it for the rest of my career.

“I would encourage anyone with some language knowledge to get involved and try to become proficient in that language. You will never know about the great experiences you are missing out on if you are not willing to take advantage of every opportunity.”

-Spanish LEAP Scholar Tech. Sgt. Trymaine Kelley