HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

Unsung Hero: TSgt. Niki Molinar

Technical Sgt. Niki Molinar, Paul W. Airey NCO Academy instructor, sits next to her ballet shoes posted on her office wall at the academy Feb. 24, 2016. Molinar credits much of her leadership ability to the discipline and creative skills she learned while teaching dance classes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

Technical Sgt. Niki Molinar, Paul W. Airey NCO Academy instructor, sits next to her ballet shoes posted on her office wall at the academy Feb. 24, 2016. Molinar credits much of her leadership ability to the discipline and creative skills she learned while teaching dance classes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.- -- An unsung hero is someone who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution to the mission. Technical Sgt. Niki Lanett is the Paul W. Airey NCO Academy unsung hero. As an instructor she has helped educate many NCOs from all over the Total Force.

Molinar is from Columbus, Ohio and has been in the Air Force for 12 years. She said she originally joined because she admired the culture and discipline of the Air Force.

Molinar said being an instructor can be both a challenging and rewarding experience.  

"The most rewarding part of instructing is when another sergeant learns something of great value from you," Molinar said. "There's no other feeling like when one of your students tells you that a lesson you taught them will stick with them for the rest of their lives. It's also great when you make a breakthrough with a student. It can be challenging to broaden the perspective of a lot of the sergeants since a lot of them can be stuck in their leadership habits --  but that makes it all the better when they make the connection."

Molinar credits her ability for teaching to her passion as a dance instructor.

"I've been dancing or teaching dance for 22 years," Molinar said. "I love the expression a dancer can bring to a stage. A dancer can tell a story to a crowd and bring people to tears all with silent communication. My experience as a dance teacher helps me teach at the academy in more versatile ways. I can spin a lesson to my students in a practical way and at the same time encourage expression."

"When you get on a stage to dance, you have to be in tune with the crowd," Molinar said. "You can't just do the same thing for every performance and expect it to have the same impact. The same applies to leadership. You have to get a feel for the Airmen you lead and understand who they are and what they want. You have to be adaptable and learn what works for every group of troops, so that you're truly able to mentor them and watch them grow."

Molinar is married and her goal is to earn a degree in forensic psychology. Her interest in forensic psychology comes from her brother being a victim of a homicide when she was 14 years old.

"We were really close and hung out a lot," Molinar said. "I think when he was killed that drove me more into dance; it gave me focus and purpose during that hard time."

Molinar said her most defining moment in her career was her second reenlistment.

"My second reenlistment was when I truly realized who I was and what I wanted as a person," Molinar said. "I knew I wasn't done and still wanted to continue my service."

Molinar gave a final thought for how she leads and how she believes leadership should also be a mentorship.

"My focus whether it's personal or professional is always on the broken people," Molinar said. "I want to find that spark and help them. Being an NCO is more than having an extra stripe; it's about leading and pulling people out of their slump."