AETC commander visits St Louis JROTC cadets, lauds diversity & inclusion

  • Published
  • By Miriam Thurber
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — When Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, commander of Air Education and Training Command, walked into Gateway STEM High School here Sept. 30, he immediately noticed the flags.

In the halls of this St. Louis high school, flags are on prominent display for every nationality represented in the student body and, according to Robinson, that diversity is what makes the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program so successful.

As the Air Force officer responsible for recruitment, training and education, Robinson oversees the service’s JROTC program and its three-part curriculum of leadership, wellness and aerospace science.

“We recognize the value of diverse, inclusive perspectives and experiences that enable us to be better positioned to find new and improved solutions to the complex challenges of 21st-century geopolitical and warfighting environments,” Robinson said after spending time with the MO-851 detachment’s 117 cadets, 60 percent of which are female. “Starting with the school’s administration down to AFJROTC Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Col. (Ret) Michael Katka and his team, it’s truly inspiring to see them develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community in an environment that allows everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Robinson predominantly spoke to the cadets about character and leadership. One student, Cadet (Lt. Col.) Terrence Cannon, said, “Gen. Robinson’s speech really impacted my life and he challenged all of us to become servant leaders.”

Katka added, “Lt. Gen. Robinson’s visit with our cadets inspired them to overcome life’s challenges and become tomorrow’s leaders.”

At Gateway STEM High School, students receive academic credit for the Air Force courses, which include offerings such as “Frontiers of Aviation History,” “The Science of Flight,” “Survival” and “Principles of Management” among the available classes.

Combined, each graduate completes 180 contact hours between the three subjects, and they have access to additional activities like summer honor camps and model rocketry programs. Students who successfully complete the program can compete for industry jobs, ROTC scholarships and U.S. Air Force Academy nominations, or they can often join the military at a higher pay grade than other enlistees. 

“I simply can’t say enough about how well the Gateway STEM High School staff, including the JROTC detachment, supports the students’ development and education overall,” Robinson said. “Even cadets who decide not to pursue military careers graduate with advanced leadership and strategic thinking skills that they bring to their first jobs.”

For those considering a career in the military, the Air Force has an unbeatable value proposition, providing unmatched opportunity, genuine community and a strong sense of purpose, Robinson said. 

“We are in a more competitive and dangerous international security environment than we have seen in generations,” he said. “Our Airmen provide the competitive advantage against adversaries like China and Russia. To maintain that edge, our Air Force needs to attract the best of all Americans eligible to serve. We’re looking for science and technology experts, creative leaders and strategic problem solvers who will help us win future conflicts.”

The Air Force JROTC program has more than 870 units in high schools world-wide. There are more than 125,000 high school cadets in the program and more than 1,900 retired USAF instructors who lead, mentor, guide, and teach cadets in high schools in the U.S. and around the world. For more information about Air Force JROTC programs, drill team scholarships and education, visit

Robinson’s visit was part of the Air Force’s GO Inspire initiative to engage with youth from underrepresented groups and attract the best talent to serve.