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Honor Guard team creates ‘Academic Bonanza’ for professional development

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shannon Moorehead, 375th Air Mobility wing

Scott Air Force Base, Ill. – In an effort to prepare Airmen for higher-level responsibilities and enhance their leadership potential, Scott’s Honor Guard developed an “Academic Bonanza.”


The Academic Bonanza is an incentive-based program that earns Airmen points for each hour of professional development, CLEP or DANTES test passed, or semester hours completed.  


“Developing Airmen is really the force behind this program,” said Master Sgt. Kirsten Wong, 375th Base Honor Guard superintendent. “General Charles Brown, the Air Force Chief of Staff, recently stated ‘Bottom line, we want to develop and empower our Airmen to be leaders. That’s what it’s all about.’  This is just one of the ways here at Honor Guard that we can do that.”


To ensure that all Airmen were eligible to participate, Bonanza organizers developed a ratio-based system that awards hours based on the time Airmen dedicate to each class or seminar. With professional development classes recorded on a 1:1 ratio, CLEPS/DANTES at 1:5 and college classes at a 1:10 ratio.


“Since the majority of Airmen who come to Honor Guard are still completing their Career Development Courses and are unable to take college classes, we wanted to ensure they were still able to participate in the event through professional development hours,” said Wong.


With the assistance of organizations such as the Scott 5/6 who reserve spots for Airmen in their mentoring sessions, the incentive-based program is flourishing. The Airmen have completed everything from college credits towards bachelor’s and master’s degrees, to professional development scavenger hunts, said Wong. 


Some incentives for the bonanza include a morale day, compensation days and pizza parties.


“The schooling that they do is credit unto itself but we try to up the ante,” said Stephen Duremdez, Scott Honor Guard NCO in charge.


Since the start of the program the Airmen have recorded over 186 hours of training in the eight week period. Senior Airman Dejori Sanders, 436th Supply Chain Operations Squadron weapons management flight strategic airlift journeyman was declared the victor of the bonanza in a ceremony with a total of 64 hours completed.

“The academic bonanza really drove me because I knew I wasn’t just doing this for myself but for those who follow in my footsteps,” said Sanders. “Since I’m a flight lead I felt that it would motivate them to work harder and I had them behind me as well. It wasn’t just me who won, it was my whole team.”