Month of the Military Child: Liberty Wing family member awarded new Air Force scholarship

  • Published
  • By Jeremy Larlee
  • 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

An Air Force ROTC cadet, with ties to the 512th Airlift Wing, received the Charles McGee Leadership Award during a ceremony Jan. 27 at the University of Maryland.

Cadet Cayla Williams, a student at George Mason University, Virginia, and sociology major, said she was proud to be selected for the scholarship. Air Force Chief of Staff  Gen. CQ Brown Jr. presented her the award at the event.

“I’m honored and blessed to be the first recipient of the CMLA scholarship,” she said. “I'm grateful for all the support that I had to get me to this point.”

Named after Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, a fighter pilot and Tuskegee Airman during World War II, the CMLA is a two-year scholarship to help relieve financial burdens and allow all qualified cadets to focus on their academic and leadership development. Eligible cadets are granted a two-year tuition award of $18,000 per year, or this can be converted to a housing benefit of up to $10,000 per year.

The cadet’s father Master Sgt. Shaun Williams, a 71st Aerial Port Squadron unit deployment manager and NCO in charge of the command support staff, said he was a proud parent watching his daughter during the event.

“Attending the event was surreal,” he said. “Seeing your daughter casually chatting with the Air Force Chief of Staff and other attendees was awesome. As she was giving her speech, I found myself with tears of joy watching her standing on stage and receive the award.”

The proud father went on to say his daughter’s accomplishment was due to hard work and her caring demeaner.

“As a parent you want the best for your kid,” he said. “I’ve always told my kids to give 100 percent effort in everything you do; when you give 100 percent, you will always be successful.

The cadet, who likes to spend time with family and friends and works out and plays basketball in her spare time, said she learned a lot of lessons watching her father navigate his military career.

“My dad has always told me to work hard in everything I do; and, if there's something I want, I can get it,” she said. “I've learned from my dad's military career how to work with others, no matter what they look like or their rank and how to be there for your people.

Sergeant Williams, who is a firefighter lieutenant for the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, in his civilian career, said Cayla’s experiences as a military child have made her stronger.

“The advantage of being a military child for Cayla is it gave her a dream and a goal to shoot for,” he said.  “She has been able to see all the opportunities that the Air Force offers and decided this was a career path she wanted to pursue.”