SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Many service members have been making history as the first space professionals to transfer into the newest military branch, the U.S. Space Force. Among these new Guardians is Spc4 Carolina Wilkinson, Space Delta 8, 50th Operations Support Squadron GPS warfighter collaboration cell and satellite systems operator instructor.
Wilkinson began her military career in 2017, after graduating high school in her hometown of Slidell, Louisiana.
“I have a lot of family members who have served,” Wilkinson said. “I remember being interested in the military and asking my dad questions all throughout my childhood. My grandfather served in the [U.S.] Army for nearly 39 years, so there is a lot of pride our family holds in joining.”
Before transferring into the USSF, Wilkinson was a space systems operator for the U.S. Air Force.
“When I was in the process of joining the Air Force I really wanted to be a space systems operator, so I was ecstatic when I got the job,” said Wilkinson. “[I] enjoyed that very much, but I shined when I got upgrade training to be in the GPS warfighter collaboration cell.”
Wilkinson transferred into the 2nd Space Operations Squadron in September 2020, quickly taking on multiple leadership roles.
“I am an instructor for two positions in 2nd SOPS,” explained Wilkinson. “Their mission is focused on GPS and position, navigation and timing. I am certified in space systems operation, which is the operator who manages the integrity of the GPS satellites. I am [also] certified in GPS warfighter collaborations, the ‘customer service’ of all things GPS. SSO is responsible for maintaining 35 satellites 24/7. They are the [Guardians] who bring GPS capabilities to over four billion people worldwide.”
Wilkinson’s position as an instructor is a unique one, giving her the opportunity to make an impression on many of her peers' careers.
“As a Spc4, I have positional authority over everyone in my class,” said Wilkinson. “I have had as high as a captain in my class, so it is a pretty important role to fulfill. I enjoy seeing each student progress throughout the course. It is nice to see the students absorb the information and apply it to their job later on.”
Despite her enthusiasm and excitement for her teaching position, not all aspects of Wilkinson’s job come easily to her.
“[Wilkinson] said herself, when she and I were both in an Instructor Qualification Course, that public speaking is very hard for her,” said Spc4 Wesley Titus, 2nd SOPS GPS warfighter collaboration cell mission planner. “But in order to become an instructor, which is what she yearned for, she overcame her fear by asking her peers how to be better. Overcoming that obstacle really made her proud of what she accomplished.”
Even a Guardian as driven and passionate as Wilkinson cannot accomplish such success on her own. Like most well-rounded service members, she has had a lot of support and encouragement from those around her.
“My mentor is 1st Lt. Andrew Johnson,” explained Wilkinson. “I worked closely with him for six months and he really cared about my well-being. He pushed me to start college, helped me with awards packages, and was a great supervisor.”
Johnson, 2nd SOPS crew commander, recognizes Wilkinson as a source of encouragement and joy to her fellow Guardians within a demanding work environment.
“Aside from overcoming her own challenges, Spc4 Wilkinson was always quick to help out the crew in whatever way she could,” Johnson described. “Our work can be tedious and demanding but that never stopped her from boosting crew morale. She took every opportunity to learn more about our mission system and then turned around to teach others. She looks out for her counterparts on other operations crews.”
Titus shares this sentiment, shedding light on Wilkinson’s infectious personality.
“She loves to talk to people, and enjoys other people’s gifts and hobbies,” Titus explained. “One of my favorite things she says is ‘I love that for you,’ because she likes seeing others happy and succeeding.”
Wilkinson is described by her peers as selfless, passionate and hard-working. She explained that much of her drive is inspired by the idea of consistent self-improvement. This can be illustrated by one of her favorite quotes from Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
“I like this quote because it encourages self-development,” Wilkinson explained. “I always want to better myself as a person, and to do the same thing over and over again shows no character development.”