Guam airman to hand in stripes for golden bar

Staff Sgt. Alyssa Cunha, a defense paralegal assigned to the Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, reacts to a phone call with great news February 27, 2020. Cunha was recently selected for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program by the Secretary of the Air Force Barbra Barrett. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)
Staff Sgt. Alyssa Cunha, a defense paralegal assigned to the Air Force Legal Operations Agency at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, reacts to a phone call with great news February 27, 2020. Cunha was recently selected for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program by the Secretary of the Air Force Barbra Barrett. (U.S. Air Force Courtesy Photo)

Guam airman to hand in stripes for golden bar

by Senior Airman Helena Owens
Andersen Air Force Base

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- On what seemed to be a normal Thursday morning, this defense paralegal wasn’t expecting to hear “Please hold for the Secretary of the Air Force,” during a daily brief of her workload for the day. The SecAF had one more task to add to her list: become an officer.

Staff Sgt. Alyssa Cunha, Air Force Legal Operations Agency defense paralegal, aspired to do more with her Air Force career and began to apply to several commissioning programs throughout the Air Force. She was accepted into the SOAR program first and thought this would be the route she would take. But to her surprise the Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett had other plans for her. The SecAF chose Cunha as her choice for the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program (SLECP), February 27, 2020.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be selected for this,” said Cunha. “I joined the Air Force to be financially independent from my family but I had no idea where it would take me. Now that I have this opportunity, it all makes sense.”

SLECP is a commissioning program which enables senior leaders to directly select enlisted members to commission through Officer Training School who are highly talented and exhibit exceptional performance.

The program provides a two-track opportunity; SLECP-A, for enlisted members to pursue their degree while on active duty status and SLECP-O, for Airmen who have already acquired their degree to directly commission through Officer Training School. Cunha was selected for SLECP-A.

“One of the best parts about being a supervisor is seeing your troops get selected for awards or being recognized at a higher level,” said Maj. Nicholas Mahanic, Air Force Legal Operations Agency area defense counsel. “It is just terrific to see someone who put in so much hard work and do so many great things, to have it pay off in such an amazing way.”

Cunha says the leaders that were above her throughout her Air Force career inspired her to pursue being an officer. She wants to represent leadership well like it has been represented to her thus far.

“I’m most excited for the opportunities to follow this because it’s completely unknown,” said Cunha. “It’s nerve racking but super exciting for me and I can’t wait to see what this next chapter in my Air Force career looks like.”

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