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By Luis Delgadillo with contributions from Stephen Cleare
Defense Contract Management Agency’s Palmdale office held its first virtual promotion ceremony to mark a career milestone for an agency, and Air Force, rising star June 1.
More than 30 family, friends and colleagues attended the promotion of Air Force Capt. Jared Hines, an administrative contracting officer with DCMA Palmdale, to celebrate the success of a man whose future is as bright as ever.
The move for Hines, from first lieutenant to captain, coincides with another major career achievement. Hines recently learned of his selection by Air Force Personnel Command to become an Instructor and Recruiting Special Duty candidate.
According to the Air Force, the candidate list release is the next significant milestone in the Air Force’s initiative to transform the officer talent management process used to fill education, training and recruiting positions.
“Capt. Hines is a testament to the United States Air Force and has raised the bar for other junior officers at DCMA and elsewhere,” said Peter Miller, contracting supervisor at DCMA Palmdale, who oversees Hines’ work on unmanned aerial vehicle drone contracts.
The opportunity is particularly significant for Hines. Throughout his life and in his burgeoning military career, he has sought ways to help others and make an impact in people’s lives. Ever since he was a young boy in his hometown of Philadelphia, Hines said he felt capable of changing the world. He attributes that feeling to his exposure of African American leaders he learned about in history.
According to the City-of-Brotherly-Love native, he admires Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali and Rosa Parks because they were able to generate massive influence.
Thanks to these historical figures and others from his history lessons and experiences of his childhood, Hines grew up believing he could make an impact on the world.
While changing the world might seem like a lofty goal for some, Hine’s accomplishments thus far – various contributions to the Air Force and his individual ability to overcome obstacles – tell a story of someone up for the challenge.
In 2018, as a first lieutenant, Hines won Company Grade Officer of the year for both his Wing at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, and for his contracting specific functional area at his major command. Earlier that year, Hines teamed with his friend, a first lieutenant at the time, Air Force Capt. Russell Lewis, and began putting on Higher-Level Leadership conferences to establish networking, mentoring and professional development opportunities, for both junior and senior minority leaders.
Hines said the pair’s initial efforts and a follow up HLL conference in 2019 led to them working with the Headquarters of the Air Force, Diversity and Inclusion Office at the Pentagon. Hines and his team of “Mountain Movers,” as they call themselves, efforts culminated in the Air Force’s first Diversity and Inclusion Summit, held in Washington, D.C., Feb. 13-15.
“He has a passion for helping and mentoring others, and it's inspiring to see what he's been able to accomplish both within DCMA and at a service-wide level in the Air Force,” said Air Force Col. David Ferris, commander of DCMA Palmdale.
With assignments to DCMA, officers and enlisted service members have the opportunity to see how the agency ensures buying commands get exactly what they bargained for within defense contracts.
“DCMA provides a great broadening opportunity to work in a joint, fourth estate DoD agency, seeing first-hand how our industry counterparts deliver the systems, supplies, and services our warfighters rely on,” said Ferris.
Hines’ day-to-day responsibilities include administrative contract support for the MQ-1 Gray Eagle and MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle programs.
“He's also leading up a team that is working on improving our recruiting and outreach activities, to help encourage promising, diverse talent to join DCMA,” said Ferris.
With everything Hines has accomplished thus far, it’s hard to believe that his future was once in doubt.
After his family moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina in 1999, Hines grew into an accomplished athlete and student. In high school, he was awarded the prestigious Hope Scholarship, a merit-based award given for academic success. By the fall of 2009, he was studying at the University of South Carolina – Aiken.
Soon, a series of personal tragedies shook the young student and derailed his academic career.
During his first semester his parents separated. Then an uncle, for whom Hines had been the caretaker, passed away, which contributed to the failing health of his grandmother. Additionally, in his second semester, one of his best friend’s was accidentally killed.
The normally high-performing student saw his GPA slip to 1.6. He lost his scholarship and was placed on academic probation. Financial pressure at home increased with his parent’s separation, and with no scholarship available, Hines left school.
“It felt like being at the bottom of a well,” he said. “The traditional kind of well; it’s easy to feel the walls around you. It’s easy to get absorbed by the darkness.”
Despite the personal tragedies Hines said that he remained hopeful because of his faith and his family.
“There is value in a struggle, so with all the things I’ve dealt with, with all of the tragedies and tribulations, at each turn, the way I was able to embrace it was to rely on God and understand that this is ultimately going to make me a better individual,” he said.
To help his family, Hines placed his academic career on hold for a nearly a year-and-a-half and took a job at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, to work as a merchandising supervisor. In December 2010, he enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and worked as an Avionics Technician out of Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, where his reserve unit was based.
By bringing stability to his family, Hines gave himself the space he needed to then set his sights on returning to school. He requested and received a waiver to be readmitted to USC - Aiken for the fall semester of 2012.
“I just had to keep pushing. What people may view as success or what people may view as accomplishments, I view them as small stepping stones,” said Hines. “It makes me understand that there is a lot more to be done.”
Networking and exposure to different resources in the Air Force Reserve helped nudge Hines in the direction of the USC – Columbia’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. Initially, he was deemed to be a poor candidate because his low GPA.
Undeterred, he asked ROTC officials to give him a year. In that time, he brought his 1.6 GPA to a 2.8. In 2013, he applied again for ROTC and was accepted into the program.
Soon, Hines was back to achieving excellence in academia. He was on the dean's list for nearly every semester, missing it only twice – once by 0.1 points, and the other because he rose above and made the president’s list with a 4.0 GPA. The hard work he put into his academics and leadership skills paid off as he graduated and commissioned out of USC – Columbia at the top of his ROTC Spring 2016 class.
Now having been a part of the Air Force for four years, one of those years with DCMA, Hines said he looks forward to continuing to expand his career opportunities through the knowledge gained at DCMA. “Adversity is nothing more than an uncomfortable opportunity. If people see my story I’d like them to change the way they see adversity and embrace it.”
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