In August, the cadets visited with Joseph James Slawek, President & Chief Operating Officer of Fona International. Mr. Slawek wrote us a letter after the visit. 

The Tuskegee NEXT Generation mission is an easy decision to support with Time, Talent and Treasure. Personally, I have been given more than I ever earned or deserved as a son of very generous and supportive parents. They found a way to keep our education a priority, even when it affected their own means. I certainly will “pay forward” this unearned and generous gift. Tuskegee NEXT has captured my Time, Talent and Treasure since I first heard the vision two years ago from Mr. Davis.

For me, Tuskegee NEXT Generation gives me a sense of purpose through the favorable impact a Private Pilot Certificate brings to their lives. It impacts them physically, mentally and discipline wise. Becoming a pilot means to rely on other Subject Matter Experts through trust and verification. Whether Mechanics, Air Traffic Controllers, co-pilots or the airplane checklist, they all teach polite respect and response-ability. Most people are surprised by and react to life, I know the Tuskegee Next Cadets will Anticipate and Respond to life. They will be served well for their personal and professional lives with these life skills, I have been empowered with the same skills ever since I received my wings.

For the greater movement, this is an opportunity to witness the contemporary cultural, societal and community impact the original Tuskegee Airmen legacy paved. Being a part of something that homogenizes society, rather than divides, is part of the legacy we get to witness everyday. Witnessing someone achieve a dream that perhaps their closest supporters doubted probably is now possible. Watching a part of the Tuskegee Airmen alive today in our youth, community and decades to come is an honor.

When the cadets asked to visit my family’s business, FONA International, it was a pleasant surprise. I grew up working in the flavor industry before entering the aviation community and thought I might be the only pilot interested in flavors, guess I’m not alone! It was a pleasure to share our legacy and culture with the cadets. Frankly, they asked more insightful questions than I’m used to from seasoned food industry executives. It is my hope they learned something useful, as I know I did.

Tuskegee NEXT has captured my time and attention. My hope is others will take the few minutes to read more, join events and meet our cadets. It’s likely the most favorable impactful story of 2016 happening right here in our greater Chicago community.

Luke Slawek

The cadets with Mr. Slawek.

The cadets with Mr. Slawek.