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Air Force commander awarded Military Service Award at BEYA 2020

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. James Richardson Jr.
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Col. Terrence A. Adams was recognized with the Military Service Award at the 34th Black Engineer of the Year Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Global, Competitiveness conference, in Washington, D.C., Feb. 14. Adams was recognized during the Stars and Stripes dinner for his exceptional achievements and mentorship in the STEM career fields.

Founded in 2006, the Stars and Stripes dinner is a key event during the three-day BEYA STEM conference. As one of the nation’s largest gatherings of top military and civilian federal government leaders, corporate sponsors, students, family and STEM advocates, the event focuses on building interest in STEM fields and recognizing the contributions of military men and women.

“I am an accomplished Airman not because of my actions alone. I grew up knowing I could accomplish all things,” said Adams, commander of the 628th Air Base Wing and Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. “I stand on the shoulders of giants, growing up in a city where names like Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, the Tuskegee Airmen, Rosa Parks and Lewis Adams were common names. I have a village of heroes who guided me.”

The goal of the BEYA STEM Conference is to create connections between students, educators and STEM professionals while facilitating partnerships with individuals and their local STEM resources. The conference has attracted top professionals and students from every part of the nation and every field of STEM for more than two decades.

“We won this award due to a passion for cyber, STEM and aviation,” Adams said. “We mentor kids in rural and urban areas with the goal of increasing the interest of young Americans to study then work in cyber, STEM, aviation career fields.”

Although individually recognized for 14 years of BEYA service and education, Adams feels this award is for more than 5,000 students he’s had the pleasure of helping.

“This award is not about me, it's about a community of people working together to build pipelines of students interested in cyber, STEM and aviation for our nation’s defense,” Adams said. “This award motivates me to continue to build bridges between our elementary and high school teachers to our industry partners — It’s all about the connections and relationships.”

Growing up in Tuskegee, Alabama, where his mom served as the source of his tenacious energy and spirit, Adams’ goals and objectives were made possible through strong mentorship.

“I have been mentored by the best,” Adams said. “Many of them are founders of the BEYA Stars and Stripes committee like Gens. Lester Lyles and Albert Edmonds and others like Gens. Ronnie Hawkins, Laura Lenderman and Giovanni Tuck, have poured love, wisdom and knowledge into me and I feel compelled to pour that into others.”

Adams’ work is only beginning, as he hopes to establish a nonprofit organization to inspire kids to work in cyber, STEM, and aviation.

“My objective is to expose our youth to cyber, STEM and aviation experiences, encourage them to take harder classes that assist them in college, then help graduates find employment in their field of study,” Adams said. “Most importantly, I hope to inspire them to dream big.”