The Missile Defense Agency graduated its latest class of participants in the Missile Defense Career Development Program (MDCDP) during a ceremony at Redstone Arsenal on Feb. 27, 2009. The graduates pictured from left to right are James Simms, Leah Tracy, Jennifer Reynolds, Kelli Blake, and Brenda Neely.

In an event marking the beginning of a concerted effort to launch young people into careers, the Missile Defense Agency graduated its latest class of participants in the Missile Defense Career Development Program (MDCDP) during a ceremony at Redstone Arsenal Feb. 27.

"You're now the old people," said Lieutenant Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, MDA director, who officiated at the ceremony.

"There are new people coming behind you," he continued, referring to MDA's plans to have a new class of 60 individuals in its newly-renamed Missile Defense Career Development Program. O'Reilly said one of the first things he did when he came on board as director last fall was to look at the overall health of the organization. He was disconcerted to realize that most of the workers had gray hair, he said.

"One of the things that jumped out was that they were all like me and less like you," adding that where the challenge for his generation of workers was to prove that missile defense technology would work, the challenge for future generations will be to prove the value of the technology.

He noted that more and more countries are acquiring ballistic missiles, and the job of future generations of MDA workers will be to prove that acquiring and attempting to use such weapons against the US will be money wasted.

O'Reilly related a recent visit with engineering students at Tuskegee University, during which a current MDA CDP participant, Danielle Nagia, asked the question, "Who wants to make a difference'" The enthusiastic response affected him deeply, he said.

People who go to work for MDA are not embarking on ordinary careers, O'Reilly said. "What we're doing right now, no one else on earth is doing."

The graduating class included: Contract Specialists Kelli Blake, Brenda Neely and Jim Simms; Operations Research Analyst Jennifer Reynolds; and Engineer Leah Tracy.

The Missile Defense Career Development Program (MDCDP), formerly known as the Career Intern Program, is a vehicle for the Missile Defense Agency to recruit, train, and grow our future workforce. Participants in the MDCDP are selected for their potential to recognize opportunities to excel and refusal to be satisfied with anything less than full effort. The recent graduates from the MDCDP have successfully completed the hands-on approach of the program, acquiring the work-related skills necessary to excel in the MDA mission. These participants will now begin their career with MDA, accomplishing the most demanding tasks; excited about the new challenges on the horizon; and successfully helping MDA move towards the future.

"...the most important contribution of my internship was demonstrating by example, with the widest possible impact, the potential of MDA interns and to pass that legacy of excellence on to the interns that follow. Everything I learned and contributed was because great people took time they didn't have to teach me and I will always appreciate their effort."
- Leah Tracy

"...The CDP introduced me to numerous professionals across many career fields... The business relationships and friendships I have formed with colleagues and other CDP participants are the most rewarding aspects of this program. The CDP has been a great way to work, learn and network while furthering my career."
- Jennifer Reynolds

"...While working with MDA in the MDCDP program, I have received some of the best training available and developed a network of people that will continue to support me throughout my career.
- Brenda Neely

"One of the most important methods of developing one's skills for a career is experience. MDA's Career Development Program provided excellent in class training to sharpen ones' leadership skills and abilities. However, more importantly, it provided great hands-on experience..."
- Kelli Blake

"...I strongly recommend the MDCDP to my friends who are interested in a challenging and meaningful career... The professional contacts I made and relationships I established with outstanding people both within and outside of MDA will positively impact my career for many years to come..."
- James Simms

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16