CECOM celebrates diversity with Hispanic Heritage Month

By Megan ClarkOctober 19, 2022

David Jimenez, vice president for research, development, test and evaluation for Jacobs Technologies and retired SES from U.S. Army Test & Evaluation Command, gives a thumbs up during a discussion panel at the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the Myer Auditorium Oct. 11, 2022.
David Jimenez, vice president for research, development, test and evaluation for Jacobs Technologies and retired SES from U.S. Army Test & Evaluation Command, gives a thumbs up during a discussion panel at the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the Myer Auditorium Oct. 11, 2022. (Photo Credit: Megan Clark, APG News) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. –The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command hosted a special observance of Hispanic Heritage Month with live music and a discussion panel at the Myer Auditorium and virtually Oct. 11, 2022. Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year.

Frank King, senior executive service and CECOM’s chief council, said it was a privilege to host the event.

“What a great day to celebrate the many significant contributions of Hispanic-American Soldiers, civilians and their families,” King said. “Hispanic-Americans have always shown allegiance to the nation, especially through their military service.”

APG is all about putting its people first, as they are our greatest strength, King said. The Army as a whole is building a culture of cohesive teams that are well trained, disciplined and diverse.

“Everyone is treated with dignity and respect,” King said. “Cultural observances like this provide the Army a unique opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of our diverse force. While it’s important to recognize the hardships of our past, the Army fully embraces its diversity and fosters inclusivity.”

Michelle Turner, equal opportunity and affirmative employee program manager for the U.S. Army Test & Evaluation Command, said that Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept. 15 because it marks the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries, such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and more.

“The theme for 2022 is ‘Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,’” Turner said. “It recognizes Soldiers and civilians of Hispanic descent who have played a significant role in our society, both in the military and outside of it.”

Turner invited four guests to join her on stage for a question-and-answer panel. The guests included Maria Esparraguera, U.S. Army Civilian Human Resources Agency; William Utroska, a deputy project manager for Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors; David Jimenez, vice president for research, development, test and evaluation for Jacobs Technologies and retired SES from ATEC; and Gerardo Melendez, CEO for Enterprise Technology Systems and retired SES.

“The ‘Unidos’ theme reinforces the need for diverse voices and perspectives,” Turner said before beginning the panel. “[Diversity] helps build stronger communities and a stronger nation.”

Turner had prepared questions covering topics such as reflecting on service, challenges and rewarding parts of service, contributing to the community and recruiting efforts. The audience was also encouraged to ask questions, both virtually and in person.

Esparraguera said that she would like to see recruiters be bilingual in English and Spanish.

“I’d like to see more messaging for recruitment in Spanish, too,” she said. “I would love to have current Hispanic leaders, as well as those who are journeying in their careers, to help with recruiting efforts. They are the ones who can say ‘this is what you can do.’”

Jimenez agreed, saying that he spent some time recruiting as part of his federal service career.

“I always want to look for where I can hopefully get someone to pick up on the stuff I was never able to do,” Jimenez said. “I want to do better to get the next generation a leg up on that. To me, that’s the most rewarding piece of being in federal service.”

Mariachi Imperio, a mariachi band, plays music in the lobby of the Myer Auditorium following a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Oct. 11, 2022.
Mariachi Imperio, a mariachi band, plays music in the lobby of the Myer Auditorium following a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration Oct. 11, 2022. (Photo Credit: Megan Clark, APG News) VIEW ORIGINAL

Following the panel, in person attendees were invited to attend a reception in the lobby of the Myer, with free food, music and cultural displays.

“I want to thank the distinguished members of our panel,” King said. “I’m grateful to be part of this incredible organization.”