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Wichitalks: Airman talks resiliency with community

AMC, McConnell

Senior Airman Tevin Manuel, 22nd Communications Squadron mission defense team operator, speaks to an audience during a Wichitalks event in downtown Wichita Kan., March 30, 2018. Wichitalks is TED Talk style grouping, where different people from around the community discuss ideas on how to make the community and city a better place to live. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Daniel de La Fé)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- When Senior Airman Tevin Manuel, 22nd Communications Squadron mission defense team operator, joined Air Force he had his sights set on making a difference.

Manuel grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. He joined the Air Force in September 2015 with the hopes of becoming an officer and eventually a U.S. senator.

“I joined the Air Force because I wanted that leadership aspect,” said Manuel. “I wanted to be a well-rounded individual and understand what it means to take on the role as a leader.”

Manuel went to technical training school in Keesler Air Force Base and when he got to his first assignment to McConnell in February of 2016, everything took a turn.

“Prior to joining the Air Force, I planned out my entire career, down to the month, on the goals I wanted to accomplish,” said Manuel. “At first contact it failed and was miserable. When I didn’t hit my certain time table I became frustrated and aggravated at myself. I started internalizing and asking myself, ‘What did I do wrong?’”

Manuel realized that he needed to turn to the leaders around him in order to get through his setbacks.

“My mentors helped me realize that often times there is nothing wrong with me or any other individual, it can just be a mismatch sometimes,” said Manuel. They helped me understand how to pick your battles and how perception can play a difference with the people around me.”

Moving forward with his mentors guidance, Manuel got involved with Wichitalks, a TED Talk style grouping, where different people from around the community discuss ideas on how to make the community and city a better place to live.

“The purpose of Wichitalks is to offer anyone with an interesting passion, idea or skill the opportunity to share with the rest of Wichita,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Falting, 22nd Force Support Squadron first term Airman’s center noncommissioned officer in charge and Wichitalks developer. “Manuel is an excellent fit for the stage. Just listening to his story, there's a positive lesson in there for every one of us.”

Manuel gave his first Wichitalks speech March 30, where he joined together the importance of resiliency and the Air Force’s model of comprehensive Airman fitness.

“Resiliency is all about picking yourself back up and continuing to move forward” said Manuel. “I wanted to join Wichitalks because I believe there was something to communicate from inside the gate to outside the gate. This is a great military community. They support us very well and I wanted to give something back to them that is tangible, something that they don’t often get to see and hear about. I want them to be able to incorporate that into their lives as leaders.”