Thank you for joining us today, folks on this very special podcast episode, we're going to be talking with an aspiring future military officer. He's also been serving on The Morning Formation Podcast as a volunteer apprentice for the last few months.
So, in the background, this gentleman has provided me with technical assistance, and the editing of many of my podcast episodes. And I wanted to bring him on board, because I think it's really important for us as military veterans and people within our military community to reach back and mentor and provide an experience of learning and leadership. So I'm very honored to have Mr. Avi Dhanraj, as a member of The Morning Formation Podcast team.
This episode is brought to you by ACC now education, go to www dot ACC now education comm for free comprehensive educational resources and opportunities for active duty veterans, military spouses and children. It's amazing the opportunities that you have in the military to do good, not only for yourself, but for everybody around you. And that has been my number one purpose, my mission and my vision to do ever since I discovered the value of other people other than yourself, you know, not being selfish. Thank you for joining us today, folks on this very special podcast episode, we're going to be talking with an aspiring future military officer. He's also been serving as the morning formation podcast, volunteer apprentice for the last few months. So in the background, this gentleman has provided me with technical assistance, and the editing of many of my podcast episodes. And I wanted to bring him on board, because I think it's really important for us as military veterans and people within our military community to reach back and mentor and provide an experience of learning and leadership. So I'm very honored to have Mr. avi Don Raj, as a member of the more information podcast team. Thank you for joining us today, Avi, thank you for having me, KP really appreciate it. It's been an honor working behind the scenes with you. So I wouldn't say that you've necessarily been working in the shadows or behind the scenes with me, you've been working next to me this whole time, because there's been so many opportunities where I needed help when it came to understanding platforms and the technical side of things. And you've been there for help. And for that, I really appreciate it. And I think that for the most part, I wanted to bring Avi on to the show, because Avi is at a point in his life in his career where he is aspiring, and he's also a budding professional. And he has goals that he wants to achieve, and one of them mainly becoming a military officer. I think many of us if we had the opportunity to go back in time and talk to ourselves, when we're at that age at that pivotal stage in our lives. In that moment, we're at a crossroads, trying to figure out which way are we going to go, we'd love to do that. And I'm here to get obvious story. I'm here to get his perspectives. I'm here to get his expectation, his expectations as well, one where he wants to go and where he wants to be 510 15 years from now. And Avi right off the bat, I want to ask you, why are you interested in not only helping veterans, but also why are you interested in becoming a military officer? Well, KP, first of all, thanks for that introduction. And the main reason I am interested in a potential future in the military and beyond is because my mom was in the army for a big portion of her life. She enlisted and she was 18. She said the bottom line at that contract thinking she would enroll to become a veterinarian. And from there after training, and after learning with the opportunities that the army had for her, she was able to start her education in radiology. And from there, build her career even into the private sector after she got out. Now, throughout her career, she was stationed in Fort Lewis, Germany, the states, but eventually she got out of the army when she had me. And from there, she was able to build her career. But she always recounts her army experience as one of the best times in her life. It was very pivotal, very educational, and she completely became a different person throughout her time there. So I'm at the point in my life, where I'm starting to consider the possibilities for the future and the opportunities that lie in front of me. And throughout the high school years, these college preparatory years, I'm looking at college as an increasingly unappealing option. And the military seems like a perfect place for me. I'll get into that a bit more later. But in a nutshell, I want to be serving a purpose bigger than myself, I want to be using my skills to benefit our world in our society for the better, namely, in software and engineering. So the army, the Air Force, the Navy all seem like amazing options. For me. I'm looking at the Air Force and Navy right now. They just seem like better fits for who I am as a person. And right now I'm going to be seeking to apply to the academies for those branches, and start my career from there. Now as to why I'm interested in helping veterans Well, KP, as a member of act now education alongside my mom and you. I have found out that veterans impact and inspire people in more ways than they may think. As a bystander to all of these veterans is countless stories, transitional periods, and success stories. It's amazing to see what kind of resourcefulness, the integrity and the robustness of so many people 1000s of veterans we have in our community and those stories These paths that these veterans take after and throughout their military careers, is truly, truly inspiring to me. And not only is it motivation for me to build a transitional plan from now, as an early age, it's also a guideline and lessons learned register of sorts. And it allows me to gain some insight to the mistakes veterans are making, what they can do to avoid them, and what to do in a situation where sometimes things aren't going your way, and you are in a tight time crunch, especially in the military scene. And all of those factors combined just makes a very, very compelling case for me as to why all of these veterans need assistance need guidance, and how not only are the veterans right now benefiting, but their children and future military cadets and officers are as well, just like me. I think what interests me the most about you, Avi is, you know, early on thinking about this, to be 100% honest with you about you know, doing a podcast episode with you and bringing you on board, bringing you to the table more or less in into the circle of our military community. I just thought to myself, What part of Avi are people going to be able to relate to, and I want to underline your roots, I want to underline the beginning for you. And that is your mother, Dr. Nicole Don rush. And from my understanding, she wasn't an American citizen, from the get go. Can you talk to us a little bit about where she originally came from, and how you're a first generation? Yes, so I am a first generation American, that means my parents were not born in the US. And I'm a naturalized citizen here. So my mom and my dad were both born in the Caribbean in Trinidad. And they spent almost their entire life there. When my mom got into the army, that's when she was able to travel and eventually ended up in the United States, of course, for having children, having a better future, as the Caribbean right now isn't really a place you want to raise a family, a lot of crime, not a very good infrastructure. And throughout that time, she was able to endure everything from discrimination to being a female in a highly technical field in the army. And all of that built her resilience and eventually molded her into the leader that she is today. And it's just very inspiring, looking back at all the hardships she had to endure to get where she is. Yeah. And I tell you, she raised a very incredible young man, you know, with you, Avi, aside from your mother's experiences within the military, as fuel for inspiration and motivation, what else inspires you to be a part of act now education and the podcasts? And also, can you cover what are some of your long term goals after the military? Well, as part of the podcast team at act now, our goal Kp is to impact as many people as possible, bringing them educational, informational, or valuable information through content mediums, such as YouTube, Instagram, buzzsprout, Spotify know, our podcast mediums, and therefore we're impacting them by giving them a roadmap, a plan or some insight to how they can benefit from both using act now educational resources, and from developing a plan for themselves. So that's why we're here. Now in terms of my goals for the future, man, I only have a vision a couple of years close to me here, I want to be a Air Force Academy graduate heading into the air force as either a cyber operations professional, or as a aeronautical engineer or robotics engineer. Those are the fields that really interests me now, beyond that, though, after my time in the military, I don't plan on getting out after just a couple of years, I want to spend at least a decade there, honing my skills, impacting as many people as I can with new innovations in military technology. And from there, I do plan on getting out eventually into the private sector where I hope to expand my skill set even more, and apply those skills that I learned from the military, including my leadership, and team building capabilities into a very advanced, very fast paced environment, where hopefully, I am innovating and creating the technology of tomorrow, whether that be in robotics and software, and computer technology, whatever it is, I want to be impacting as many people as possible. And I see that as a challenge and as a baseline for a plan for my future. And for those of you listening out there, Avi just said a mouthful. avi just said a lot, right? And you might be thinking, there's no way there's no way that this kid can possibly achieve everything that he just mentioned. But Avi, let's jump over and talk about some of your achievements so far. Well, KP I do like to be humble, but you No, you're asking me So here they are. Now's not the time to be humbled. Go ahead. Well, in Guam, I lived in Guam for five years. And just before I entered high school, I had no idea what I was doing where I was going. Now, getting into high school, I started competing in robotics competitions. I placed in the top five of my high school in the entire island of Guam over the 10 or so competitions I competed in five of them being underwater robotics competitions placed in the top five, top six every year. Two of them were international robotics competitions. I placed 53rd in the world against 160 international teams in Mexico City for a robotics competition. And then the year after in Dubai, my team and I placed a third in the world against 190 international teams in Dubai for another robotics competition. That was truly an experience there. I have also competed in Lego robotics competitions, I have mentored and captained several elementary school robotics competitions, I have founded and led the homeschool associations underwater robotics team for Guam's homeschool Association prior to they had no robotics presence in that association for high school students. And those opportunities really shaped who I am in terms of my passions. And from there, I didn't stop No, I'm ambitious. So I had a research internship at the University of Guam, where I studied the impact of sedimentation on coral. And that really shaped my view of the environmentalist approach to robotics and innovation. I also competed in several other online competitions didn't do so well. But it was great practice for me. And I also graduated with my associates degree in computer science and programming this last March, and I'm not even 18 yet. So I have a long way to go. I'm not done by any means. And I'm very ambitious. So I do you plan on achieving everything I talked about and more. We've already proven it. And I gotta tell you that Avi, one of the things that I find most admirable about you is that you're taking your education and your intelligence to our military. And you can very easily probably apply for MIT or any of these other big, well known universities out there and just take the civilian route. But you're choosing to actually go into the military, you're taking the hard left, you're going to go into an academy, you're going to serve in our military, whether it be Air Force, naval, wherever, and you're consciously deciding to serve our country. And I'd find that extremely admirable. Thank you, thank you very much. And that is the main appeal to me as to why I'm applying. It's admirable, you can take the route that everybody else is taking, they're going into the high end colleges for the money or for the opportunities and the networking that they have. And it's for themselves, even though some, of course not everybody's like this, I'm speaking for my experience. I don't have a vision for a future in the civilian world in the rapid everybody's taken. Instead, I see the military as opportunities to not only build your skills, and get that practice, get the knowledge that you want, but also serve a bigger purpose to serve the nation to innovate technologies that could help us defend ourselves to help us explore, you know, and if you look at history, military technology has been the catalyst for a lot of technological innovation, the GPS, no homing devices, it's amazing the opportunities that you have in the military to do good, not only for yourself, but for everybody around you. And that has been my number one purpose, my mission and my vision to do ever since I discovered the value of other people other than yourself, you know, not being selfish. And part of that reason being is my mom's experience in the military, the very familial bond between your brothers and sisters, while you're serving, and as a team captain, as a team representative in my robotics competitions, you're never gonna get anywhere in life if you're always thinking about yourself. And I think that the military is just a great catalyst for me to become the leader that I see myself as, and to do good while building myself up. So what that's called obvious it's called selfless service, and that's one of the army values, and it's something that you're taught in the military. You already have a lot of that value of selfless service right now. And that's what you just mentioned, it's putting the welfare of the nation and the army and your subordinates before Your own. And that's something that one of the many values that we talked about while I was in the military. And so it's absolutely amazing that you already have that about you. And with that being said, you know, it's like I said, it's very admirable that you're looking to take your own intelligence, your own education and everything to our service, and I'm looking forward to the day that you put on your rank, I hope that I have an opportunity to be there and see you. legit become a one, whether it be a lieutenant, or whatever the rank is, in the Navy, I don't even Navy's got a whole different set of rank. So right now you you play an active role with act now education. Can you talk to us a little bit about that role and how you came into that role? Yes, well, as you know, both my mom and I are at no education members, I actually joined because of her right now. She's the director of education and the interim director of HR. However I am on the more content side of things, I manage and edit the podcast alongside ukp, where our goal is to not only communicate the various stories and success stories and amazing anecdotes of our countless guests, but it's also to inform the listeners and the audience of the countless resources, opportunities and plans that we have available for transitioning military veterans act. Now, it's an opportunity to tell people to inform people and to entertain people, the opportunities that they have, even though they're at the end of their service. The goal is to tell veterans that even though their service is done, their time, their time of influence is not over. There's plenty of opportunities to apply your skills that you've gotten in the military, to the private sector. And there's plenty of opportunities to take it at a personal level as well. There's just no telling what good we can do at ACC now with this podcast. And the goal is to do as much as we can. Yes. And I'm very fortunate to have you as a member of the morning formation podcast and act now is very fortunate to have you because you're very, you're very driven young man. And I know you said earlier that you wanted to become a commissioned officer in the military. But can you talk to us a little bit more about how you plan to achieve your goals? And what are your future plans involving the military and thereafter? Well, as I alluded to earlier, I do plan on harnessing my skills for technology and engineering in the military, ideally, innovating some brand new technologies or building on tech that we already have available. And from there, after at least a decade or so of experience, I want to get out and transition into private sector work, where ideally, I'll be working on tomorrow's technology, whether that be new, efficient software, self driving cars, autonomous spacecraft, space exploration, I mean, the possibilities are endless after you transition out the military. So it's just a matter of where life takes me. I love it. I love it. And I'm gonna take this much as a military veteran myself. It's very refreshing to work with young professionals like you, it's very refreshing to see that there's the next young generation coming up with the understanding of selfless service, understanding all the values that the military tries to imply an employer employee to its folks, you already have all those so obvious, an absolute honor to have you as a member of the morning formation. And as I said before, I think in the next five years or so six years, whatever it is, you're going to look back on this episode, listen to yourself, as many of us wish we could do, and you're just gonna have a grin on your face, knowing that you've been through so much to get to your goals, and your self fulfilling that internal need to serve something bigger than yourself. So my hat's off to you. I'm looking forward to being part of your journey. The morning formation is also as a podcast, we are very honored to be part of your journey as well. Thank you for everything that you do with the morning formation, Avi, and before we wrap up this episode, is there anything that you would like for the folks who are listening out there to know? Well, if there's one thing that you can take away as a veteran or as a current active duty military officer from listening to a 17 year old kid talk about everything here? It's that even though your time in the military and your transition period may be tough, maybe a time of doubt, or a time of feeling like things are over for you and that this chapter of your life is finished. You're paving the way for our generation, my generation, in terms of inspiring and motivating me to become the reason why Why these organizations are so successful act now education, namely, with a community of over 10,000 members, helping people for a bigger purpose. Even though you are transitioning out, your time is not over. There are opportunities in the private sector, there are opportunities for personal growth. And as KP said earlier, you wish you could talk to your younger self, and you may not realize it, but transitioning and contributing to act. Now education's community is like talking to your younger self. But for other people, if that makes sense. You're allowing younger generations and people who aren't at that stage in their life yet to gain some insight to gain some experience and to learn the lessons that you wish you did throughout your career. And that is irreplaceable, especially when we're paving the way for technology, innovation, and leadership. Exactly. And so if you are someone within the military community, whether you're a veteran or a male spouse, and you're listening to this, I want to challenge you to reach out to folks better than Avi shoes, and mentor them, help bring them up, help bring him bring them into the fold, bring them to the table, to our community to understand what we're about and what we stand for. I think that's the challenge in itself. And that's the, that's the gap that we've had over the years is, you know, once we get out of the military, many of us don't want anything to do with the military anymore. We want to move on to the next chapter of our life. But then you're left with that unfulfilled desire inside to do something more than just like you had when you were wearing the uniform. So come back to the table, mentor folks, just like Avi, he has stepped up and he's volunteered for the more information as well as act education. Bring those folks into the fold. And and let's build let's build upon our next generation of military. So Avi, I just want to thank you for your time today. I appreciate your insight. It's I'm so happy to introduce you to our audience as well. And over the over the next few months, the next few years, man let's let's continue this journey and let's let's see where you're at. And I hope that at some point, we can do our next podcast when you're when you're a freshly polished tenant. Let's continue building upon your experience and your work with act now and the morning formation. And for everyone listening out there. Thank you for your time. As for the morning formation, I'm KP with our printers, Avi and we're out