SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Awards, a higher calling, coins, satisfaction, ribbons. People do things for different reasons. Be it recognition or passion, one senior noncommissioned officer here on Sheppard blends the two together so well to make recagastion…pagonission?
On May 8, 2018, Master Sgt. Terrell Mickens, NCO Academy director of resources and first sergeant at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, was awarded the Secretary of the Air Force Leadership Award in the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Category for Air University.
When first hearing of the award, Mickens said she was attacked by feelings of confusion followed by the question “what’s that?”
“I was just standing here working and my supervisor comes in and closes the door behind him and is like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you but … ’” said Mickens. “He said he got a message from headquarters that I won, and before I learned about the award I was like, ‘What does this mean?’”
Her confusion then transformed into pride as she would gather up her entourage of her proud mother and her proud supervisor and proceeded to Maxwell AFB, Alabama, for the award, headed by Secretary of the Air Force herself, Heather Wilson.
“I don’t really get star struck, but when I was there and she was talking to everyone one by one and eventually came down to me, I was just like, ‘Uhh wow,’” Mickens said. “She was just such a real person. Someone this high up and you can just talk to. It’s cool … I got star struck.”
After her meeting with one of her new heroes, she said she noticed a change in how she worked and how she had to carry herself. She said she’s always had her core values, but now she makes more of an effort to carry them with her everywhere.
“It’s not that you walk with your chest out and ‘oh look at me,’ but it’s now people are looking at you. Other NCOs, other leadership and they’re looking like, ‘What are you going to do now,’” Said Mickens. “I realized people are going to look at me and be like, ‘Well what makes her different?’ you know? It caused me to really check myself. To keep living the right way.”
Mickens said getting recognition for the SecAF SNCO category award revealed her passion. Her passion to care for others the way her leadership cared for her.
“When you’re a young Airman, you’re really taking care of yourself, trying to figure out what you’re doing or trying to get your schooling,” Mickens said. “But when you become a senior NCO, it’s all about taking care of other people. Even the people above you.”
Her focus now turns to help the new NCOs coming through the academy realize their goals and missions and help her leadership as they helped her.
“You know when you do your job you do it 100 percent, and that’s my goal all the time,” Mickens said. “If I’m going to do something, it’s going to be the best I can. Whoever I’m working for I’m going to do my best for them. I think that’s why my leadership wanted to recognize me for that.”
Mickens has embraced her leadership role at the NCOA ever since she was just an instructor, yet now as the superintendent, her goals and mission has not changed.
“No matter where you are, or what you do, if you’re on the bottom or the top, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “If you love what you do and understand your value and purpose, you’ll make it. If you’re the Airman taking out the trash, do it with enthusiasm. Loving what you do is No. 1. Second is the support.”
Mickens’ special duty at NCOA will be coming to an end soon. She will be returning to the paralegal world this August.
Mickens’ also wanted to give a special shout out to Chief Master Sgt. Wendell Snider for teaching her how to take care of people and also a shout out to her faith who has always pushed her back up after she felt down.