Newly commissioned 2nd lieutenant is AFVentures Fellow
By Senior Airman Sarah McClanahan, Maryland National Guard
/ Published February 03, 2020
BALTIMORE -- Air Force 2nd Lt. Sarah Soliman discovered what it meant to serve while working as a contractor for the military in Southwest Asia. After recently commissioning, she was awarded an inaugural spot in the AFVentures Fellows program while awaiting her career-specific training in cyber.
The competitive program, a Secretary of the Air Force initiative, immerses participants in some of the world's most advanced risk management and investment firms to build relationships and bring back knowledge to strengthen the Air Force.
Soliman, a member of the 175th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, is one of two National Guard members selected to participate in the program. All 22 fellows will have different assignments shadowing and learning from different companies and capital investment firms across the San Francisco Bay Area in February and March.
"Some of the events will be in groups, but the primary focus of our day is to be a shadow, be a fly on the wall, and be a sponge," explains Soliman. "We will be soaking up all the knowledge we can and contributing all we can at our capital firm assignments."
Soliman has experience taking on new challenges. She was introduced to the military after college as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan for two years.
"I felt like the military was kind of like studying abroad because there's all this different lingo and cultural cues and norms I didn't understand at first," she said. "I had to ask a lot of questions and read books and memoirs. ... I anticipate some of the [same] challenges."
Soliman continues to work closely with the military as a public policy analyst. In 2018, she elected to commission into the Maryland Air National Guard, joining the ranks of the people she had been working to support.
Soliman's break between basic military training and her career school does not prevent her from staying active. After coming across an advertisement for the AFVentures Fellows program on social media, she seized the opportunity.
"She will be learning with venture capital firms who, unlike the military, have a monetary drive towards making these initiatives successful," said Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Timothy, 175th Cyberspace Operations Squadron commander. "We're hoping she learns how to take on new initiatives and capture the momentum behind [new] technologies and other areas where we might be able to use those things to improve the Air Force and ... make our squadron better."
With the green-light from her commander, she will soon head off to California.
"One of my goals is to blaze the trail," said Soliman. "I recognize what an amazing [opportunity this is] and hope that in the future other Maryland Guardsmen can follow."