349th ARS Airman earns spotlight performer

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
As a spotlight performer, individuals are chosen by leadership for demonstrating one or more of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander's intents: Foster a culture of excellence ... Develop the next generation of leaders ... Set and achieve goals.

Senior Airman Vanya Cook-Leotaud, 349th Air Refueling Squadron training flight assistant, was chosen as the 22nd Air Refueling Wing spotlight performer for the week of April 15 to 19.
As a boom operator, Cook-Leotaud provides aerial refueling onboard a KC-135 Stratotanker in addition to being responsible for weight and balance computations and cargo and passenger handling duties.

She joined the Air Force in March 2011, has been at McConnell AFB since February 2012 and enjoys ice and roller skating in her free time.

"Senior Airman Cook-Leotaud has been a hard-charger from the start," said Staff Sgt. Sherwin Carino, 349th ARS training flight NCO in charge. "She is always looking for the next challenge, whether it is streamlining training folders and processes in the shop, volunteering at the Robert J. Dole Community Center or working on her master's degree in sports management."

In addition to previously being selected as Airman of the Quarter and Deployed Airman of the Quarter, Cook-Leotaud was promoted to senior Airman below-the-zone.

"In such a short time being in the Air Force," said Carino, "she has demonstrated the 22nd ARW commander's intent of setting and achieving goals by her steadfast devotion to fitness and education. Her work ethic and dedication undoubtedly will serve in her favor for success in future endeavors."

Who is the most positive influence in your life and why?
I try not to be influenced by negativity, so I surround myself with individuals who work toward goals and improving themselves. I draw from their experiences so that I can make better decisions. I could not pick one most influential person, because there is a tie between several individuals.

If you could give advice to a new Airman, what would it be and why?
The advice I continually give to new Airmen is to get college credits and volunteer. Education is stressed in the Air Force and getting college credits sets you up in life, future promotions and possibly a career or degree program after the military. Also, as a new Airman living off-base, I didn't have many opportunities to meet people outside of my squadron, but I found that volunteering provided that opportunity.

What is one goal that you have already accomplished, or would like to accomplish, during your Air Force career?
A goal that I continuously work towards is becoming debt free. Before the military, I had a student loan and I responsibly used credit cards to help pay the costs of going to school. In the past two years, I have reduced my total debt by half, and I look forward eliminating it all by March 2015.

Where is the most interesting place you have traveled and why do you feel that way?
I have not been to many places despite being a flyer. However, on my first temporary duty, I went to Travis AFB, Calif., for five days. In that time, my crew and I visited the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma, Calif. These sites have breathtaking views and so much is available in close proximity.

If you had the opportunity to meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question, but I do really want to sit in a lecture hall of Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a professor at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. I would even consider going to Georgetown just to take his class. I have watched him on various debates over the past several years and he simplifies complex concepts for better understanding. He manages to bring relevance and importance to topics that seemingly may have none.