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Liaison team address cadet parents’ questions

As the Parent Liaison Team, Carrie Clancy and Rose Marie Nikovits connect cadet parents with U.S. Air Force Academy events.
As the Parent Liaison Team, Carrie Clancy and Rose Marie Nikovits connect cadet parents with U.S. Air Force Academy events, leadership and policies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Ward)

By Randy Roughton
U.S. Air Force Academy Strategic Communications

U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. – When parents of cadets have a question, they can find the answer with the U.S. Air Force Academy Parent Liaison Team. The two-member team, part of the Strategic Communications Outreach Division, provides an important resource for parents throughout their children’s cadet careers.

“If parents have any issues, they come to us,” said Rose Marie Nikovits, parent’s liaison team member. “We are that link between Academy staff and the parent community.”

Nikovits and Carrie Clancy serve cadet parents in three important functions. In addition to supporting parents throughout their cadets’ Academy years, the team provides information for parents during cadet milestones, such as Basic Cadet Training, Graduation, In-processing Day and Parents Weekend. Additionally, the team provides guidance and information for almost 90 parents’ clubs nationwide.

‘I feel I was just there myself’

Nikovits has worked with cadet parents since 2012. Clancy joined the team after her son graduated from the Academy in 2021.

“I think being a parent of an Academy grad is a strength for our team because I understand their concerns and questions,” Clancy said. “Leaving your kid at a university is the same for everybody. I understand their feelings when they drop off their cadets on I-Day and later sit in the stands at graduation with Thunderbirds flying overhead. I feel like I was just there myself.”

Supporting parents from in-processing to graduation

Clancy and Nikovits support parents from the day their children arrive to begin their cadet journey through graduation four years later. The team provides parents with timely and accurate information and provides clarity on potentially misleading social media posts and/or inaccurate information within the parent community. They communicate with parents through email, newsletters, social media and the Academy’s Parents website.

“Social media is a fantastic tool to connect parents with the Academy and to each other, but because information travels so quickly, we all must work hard to ensure information is accurate.” Clancy said. “We spend a lot of time educating people and keeping our finger on the pulse of the parent community, but we cannot monitor all the information out there on social media. If parents see something questionable we ask that they reach out to us for confirmation.”

The duo also responds to parents’ inquiries and concerns, answering questions and helping parents reach the proper Academy points of contact.

The parent liaison team prepares for upcoming cadet milestone events

With graduation less than two months away, followed a few weeks later by the Class of 2028’s arrival, the team is preparing to support parents for both cadet milestone events. “Some events might seem confusing for parents with no military background,” Nikovits said. “We help parents prepare well before the basic cadets’ arrival on In-processing Day, by providing information and support they need.”

“Additionally, we support a parent information fair at the Academy on I-Day to share helping agencies’ information with our parents,” Nikovits said. “In addition to sharing information, we are also ready to give lots of hugs and have tissues ready when parents need them after dropping off their cadet. Following I-Day, we go directly into Basic Cadet Training where our summer is spent supporting the incoming class and their families. Then the new school year begins.”

Assisting parent clubs to succeed

The team also works with parent club leadership throughout the country to disseminate information to the parent community. “Parent clubs are “an extension” of the liaison team,” Nikovits said. “Each club has experienced members who are parents of upper-class cadets along with newcomers who are just beginning their Academy parenting journey. The experienced parents are super helpful and assist when necessary and support parents of new cadets.”

They also conduct semi-annual parent club president training conferences where participants learn leadership skills, meet Academy senior leaders, exchange best practices among clubs to better help understand cadet life and services available to them and their cadets.

Reconnecting with past parents

Both women said they enjoy reconnecting with parents throughout their cadet’s journey. Clancy and Nikovits sometimes communicate and engage with parents several years after the parent liaison team initially helped them when their children arrived at the Academy. Some parents later accept club leadership roles themselves. One example was a U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School cadet candidate’s mother in 2022. The mother struggled after she dropped off her child on In-processing Day, Clancy said. The team encountered her again at a parents’ conference this year. She is now a parents’ club president and a parent of 2027 Cadet.

“The part about the job that I love most is making those connections and forming those friendships,” Clancy said. “We get to see how we helped them get through that experience. Now she’s going to be able to do that for other parents.”