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Making your “first”

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Capt. Celeste Oliver, 21st Operations Support Squadron, flight commander plans and projects, reads a book to the children of the Peterson Air Force Base Child Development Center, Feb. 10, 2017. The book reading was part of the CDC celebration of National African-American History Month (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Capt. Celeste Oliver, 21st Operations Support Squadron, flight commander plans and projects, reads a book to the children of the Peterson Air Force Base Child Development Center, Feb. 10, 2017. The book reading was part of the CDC celebration of National African-American History Month (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Kotecki)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Capt. Celeste Oliver, 21st Operations Support Squadron flight commander plans and projects, credits her upbringing with a world view that is slightly different that a majority of her peers and one that she believes she can use to educate children to strive for personal excellence.

Both her parents served in the Army so she often moved around a lot.

“We lived all over the Southern states and overseas in Germany, so I was accustomed to moving,” Oliver said, “I think it gave my siblings and I a head start when it came to certain things, we made friends from lots of different backgrounds a lot easier.”

Her father enlisted in the army but later became a Warrant Officer and flew helicopters. He was one of five black cadets in his flight school.

She knows through things that he’s told her, that being a black pilot in the late 60s and early 70s was different than today. But she feels that both her parents were part of laying the foundation for African-Americans in the military.

She credits the example of her parents as being part of the reason why she chose to join the Air Force. After graduating from Tuskegee University with a degree in chemistry, she decided to become an officer. “Service is definitely in my blood,” Oliver said.

“I think one of the things that I’ve learned from my parents is that you should always be striving towards personal excellence, which really goes well with the Air Force core values,” said Oliver.

Oliver didn’t really think of the struggles that should could face as an African-American female before she joined. “I knew that a lot of progress had been made since my parents first joined, I never really thought about it,” said Oliver.

“So many ‘firsts’ have happened already for the black community in the military, first black pilots, first black astronauts, that there aren’t many left, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving for them. It’s the examples of all of these ‘firsts’ that should guide everyone, not just African-Americans,” Oliver said.

She feels that it’s the excellence of her forebears that is the most deserving of the credit that she gives for her personal goals.

“If I had to have my ‘first’ it would be to start a school that was fully diverse and inclusive from the start,” said Oliver, “if we start teaching tolerance from the very first years of schooling it’s better as a whole.”

When she’s not working Oliver is volunteering her time with Junior Achievement at Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“I enjoy teaching and working with kids, we need more educators who are willing to show children that the answer to the problems today isn’t to close doors but to open them,” Oliver summarized about why she likes to teach and volunteer.

She believes that if everyone strived to have their ‘first’ whatever that may be then everyone can reach their personal excellence.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui