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Maj. Celestine Lukshis

MA in Security Studies, ‘21
U.S. Air Force

Prior to coming to NPS, Major Celestine Lukshis served as one of the first 24 Flight Commanders at the Air Force’s Basic Military Training Base, hand-selected by the Air Force to transform the training environment culture. During a deployment to Afghanistan, she served as a Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan Personnel/Human Resource Mentor to the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command Staff. Now at NPS, Major Lukshis is a Foreign Area Officer Fellowship student. She recently presented her idea, "Building a platform that leverages AI for talent and experience management within our Armed Forces" at a Business Executives for National Security (BENS) meeting in Silicon Valley. This group includes executives from several leading technology companies and venture capitalists who are interested in partnering with the Department of Defense wherever possible.

What was your experience like presenting to the BENS group in Silicon Valley?

I presented my idea, which advocates for a new talent management platform that considers more than basic performance records and job data. With the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, this platform and data from other human resources systems can help Air Force decision-makers identify the right talent for specific mission sets. My idea seemed to be broadly accepted by the BENS executives as most saw the need for it in our current workforce. They suggested contacts and organizations in our Armed Forces communities to reach out and talk to about my project. Two companies offered me the opportunity to present my idea to their group of researchers and industry professionals. The industry professionals could present ways to make this idea a reality. 

What are some highlights from your time at NPS?

I started at NPS in March 2020, so I have never experienced what the school was like before COVID-19. My highlights are when we, students and faculty, can get together and connect. Through the NPS Foundation, we have found new ways to connect. Whether it's a socially distant scavenger hunt on campus with the International Club, online tournaments with the Chess Club, or a Zoom wine tasting with the Wine Club, the highlight is connecting with members of the NPS community.

Why did you initially decide to join the military?

I decided to join the military because of the opportunities and communities that the military could offer. When my family and I immigrated to America from Papua New Guinea, my father enlisted in the U.S. Army. Our first experiences included involvement in the Family Readiness Groups (FRG). The FRG helped our family assimilate into a new culture and provided us opportunities to improve our lives. During high school, I was offered an Air Force ROTC scholarship to the University of Miami. I saw it as a way to give back to a community that had given a lot to my family and me.

What are some of the most significant moments in your military career thus far?

Any moment I could make a difference in someone else's life. As a Captain in Afghanistan, my Special Operations Forces Army Commander allowed me to serve as a Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) project manager. With that opportunity, I coordinated the movement of $25,000 worth of humanitarian aid to local civilians in the Kunduz province. 

Any goals or aspirations for your future career?

In terms of future goals after NPS, I want to retire as an officer who has helped others. I don't have a specific rank or target job in mind for my future career. The only goal I have is to leave the organization better than it previously was and set my people up for success in their future careers and lives.

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