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Cooking inspires Air Force career

Story by Airman 1st Class Klynne  Pearl Serrano

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – For Col. Sharon Hunter, 97th Medical Group  commander, cooking and food sparked an interest in an Air Force career as a  dietician.

Hunter, a native of Blairsville, Ga., enjoyed school from the  start.

“When I was in high school, I enjoyed math more [than other  subjects],” Hunter said. “But school didn’t offer too many math programs.”

While going to school in a small town, access to some programs was limited,  but that did not get in the way of Hunter’s goals.

After high school,  Hunter majored in food service management at Georgia Southern College in  Statesboro, Ga., for her undergraduate degree, and the University of Tennessee  in Knoxville, Tenn., for her graduate degree in nutrition and food science.

“I was interested in cooking and food,” Hunter said. “Being a dietician  really isn’t about cooking though. It’s about what food can do for you. The food  science part was particularly interesting to me because it focused on how the  different ingredients interact to become a product.”

When the Air Force  offered a dietetic internship, Hunter jumped at the opportunity. She worked as a  local dietician for a just a few months before she was offered entry into the  Air Force.

“My dad and his two brothers retired from the Air Force,” Hunter said. “So I was familiar with it. Just knowing how proud of him I was and  how proud he was of what he did when he served in the Air Force influenced my  decision to join.”

When asked if she experienced any obstacles as a woman  serving in the Air Force, Hunter replied, “I would say not so much as a woman. I  think being in the medical career field, there are more women. I think that by  the time that I came into the Air Force, women were accepted as part of the  medical service.”

Hunter attributes this to all women in history who have  paved the way.

“I think that we, as women today, owe it to many women in  history,” Hunter said. “For that, I think that I have not had a difficult  path.”

With a cost conscious culture in mind, Hunter believes that it is  important to be innovative while still accomplishing the mission and still being  true to “who we are as a culture and an organization.”

“It is not the  80s, 90s, or the 50s,” Hunter said. “With respect for the AFIs, I think it is  important to be innovative with the way we do things and move forward.”

Hunter emphasized the importance of innovative women who have shown they can do  the same jobs as men.

“I think the sky is the limit,” Hunter said. “I  think history shows that women can do anything that they put their minds to. In  the past there was a belief that men had the technical minds and were better  suited for those kinds of careers while women were believed to be the  touchy-feely nurses. I think time has shown that women are just as successful as  men in those technically-related careers.”

“If you know what you want,  then go after it,” Hunter said.

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