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Overcoming the odds: Offutt Airman educates youth on diversity

Man speaks to 5th graders about diversity and respect

Randy White, 55th Wing Equal Opportunity and Alternative Dispute Resolution offices director here, speaks to 5th-graders at Central Park Elementary School in Omaha about the importance of diversity and respect in school, at work and in their lives. White was one of many speakers invited to Central to participate in Black History Month events. U.S. Air Force photo by D.P. Heard

Teacher and students watch as man speaks on diversity and respect

5th-graders at Omaha’s Central Park Elementary School, and their math teacher, Durkany Bassia, listen intently as Randy White, 55th Wing Equal Opportunity and Alternative Dispute Resolution offices director here, speaks about the importance of diversity and respect in school, at work and in their lives. U.S. Air Force photo by D.P. Heard

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The director for the 55th Wing Equal Opportunity and Alternative Dispute Resolution Offices here was invited to Central Park Elementary School in Omaha as one of the guest speakers for Black History Month.
 
Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Randy White holds a Master of Science in Human Relations degree, certification through the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, and many other accomplishments. 

Leading by example, White has done a lot for communities in his life. His efforts with open the door to his work with Girls Entering Maturity Securely and Guys Obtaining Leadership Development program, he has always been an inspiration to the military and civilian communities he serves.

White was immediately a hit with the students as he went from classroom to classroom to tell his story about being successful in his careers. His message to the children was about respect, even as you are climbing the ladder to success. 

He spoke about the many roles he's held while furthering his career during and after his military service. The main focus of his comments was on respect. He challenged the children to "Change ourselves first." He never passed up a chance to emphasize the importance of respect during his time with the children. 

Most of the children at Central seemed to be more interested in his message than his race.  However, the impact on how they felt about their classmates and about respecting people in general, coming from a man whose ethnicity resembled most of them, was better. 

Their questions ranged from how he liked his current job to how he felt about his time on active duty in the Air Force. To illustrate his many posts, White physically changed hats while speaking to each room full of students. Eventually moving from his Air Force camouflage cap to his civilian black fedora, and all the hats in between. The children responded with more questions. They had so many questions that he was often behind schedule, moving from one class to the next. Some just wanted to know if he enjoyed his current job or his time in the Air Force.

“One of the things my parents always taught me was to show respect to leaders at school, at church and in the community,” White said. 

“The children were very enlightened, and they enjoyed him telling them about the different phases in his life, and the different hats he has worn. Also, they were glad to hear about the different adversities he faced growing up." Said Mrs. DaWanna Parker, a paraprofessional at Central and the organizer of White’s visit.

Parker also said that they were excited to hear about how he had to be respectful to all adults when he was growing up. 

White also visited a 5th-grade math class taught by Durkhany Bassia.  “Mr. White is a real-life hero our students can relate to on many levels. He wears many hats to make a difference in our community. His message supports what we in the education field express to our students.” Bassia said.

"Although our backgrounds are diverse, through a strong work ethic and positive attitude, anyone can achieve their goals to become their best. Children and adults need to see and hear that the best is possible,” added Bassia.
 
As an orator and mediator, White frequently teaches human relations courses, instructs emotional intelligence classes and facilitates team building sessions designed to enhance communication in workplaces fractured due to cultural biases. These experiences allow him to convey the importance of diversity and respect in all areas of life.