“High school isn’t a ‘check mark’ – it’s an opportunity to find out who you are and gives a foundation for who you will quickly become.”
I’ve always had a heart for service, and TC Christian gave me a tremendous amount of opportunities to develop and grow as a follower of Christ and a servant to those around me. I’ve also always had an interest in aviation. Those two interests – flying and service – pointed me in the direction of the Air Force.
My flying passion really took off (pun intended) while in high school when I joined both the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. CAP introduced me to the Air Force and both organizations connected me to some amazing men and women who had served our community and our country. Many were retired military pilots (fighters, bombers, transports and helicopters) along with NorthFlight personnel and local pilots.
As a high school student, CAP and the Auxiliary were a bit like a JROTC program, but without the intensity. I went on aviation camps, got to ride in some cool USAF and Coast Guard aircraft, and learned all about drill and military tradition. My experience in both CAP and the CG Auxliary was excellent preparation for my future Air Force career. That, combined with the first-class education I received at TCCS, helped me gain acceptance into the U.S. Air Force Academy.
A little back-story on my TC Christian education and getting accepted into the Academy. As you may know, the USAF Academy has exceptionally high academic standards. They will generally not accept anyone under a 4.0 GPA. In my Senior year at TCCS, I was carrying a 3.7 GPA.
When the issue of GPA came up in my candidate interview, the Academy Selection Board asked me about the classes I had taken at TC Christian. Upon review, they determined that, based on the breadth and depth of my TC Christian classes, my 3.7 GPA at TCCS was equivalent to a 4.0 elsewhere. I was in!!
After two months of basic training, I entered the Cadet Wing and began the rigorous four years ahead. My declared major was Military and Strategic Studies. This degree teaches you to think strategically and creatively when faced with complex operational challenges. It is designed to prepare you to lead and operate in any conflict environment anywhere in the world. It truly is fascinating.
In our senior year, we worked on our thesis in what is known as the Cadet Battle Laboratory Project. We authored our thesis with guidance from a faculty advisor and had an opportunity to publish the findings in the “Airman-Scholar Journal”.
A typical day at the Academy began at 6 am with morning physical training (usually push-ups in the hallway while our perfectly made beds were flipped over during inspections). After about 45 minutes, we had a morning formation as a squadron of about 100 people, followed by breakfast. Classes went from 8am to 3:30pm, and ranged from history, English, aeronautical engineering, physics, and everything in between.
After class, my squadron participated in 2 hours of military training (rucksack marches, shooting, land navigation, etc.). The rest of the night was devoted to studying and usually lasted into the morning hours. Summer training included sky diving, survival skills, research trips, and flying, to name just a few.
Four years later, after many amazing adventures and long nights of study, I graduated with my Military and Strategic Studies degree and was awarded a commission as an Officer in the U.S. Air Force. Graduation from the Academy was huge for me as my whole family and some special friends came out to celebrate. Because I had been selected as a Pilot, I’m now at the US Air Force Pilot Training base in Enid, Oklahoma.
“Refuse to go to sleep at night until you feel like you will wake up a better person than you did the day before.”
A typical day in pilot training begins with morning physical training. (This is a common theme in the military. Just sayin’). After cleaning up and grabbing breakfast, we undergo a series of morning flight briefings, take various exams and participate in daily flight operations. Pilot training is a lot of studying and typically flying 5-10 hrs a week.
As you can imagine, I’m very excited about my future. My dream assignment is the F22 Raptor or working within an aircraft test environment.
The biggest piece of advice I could give current students at TCCS would be to develop yourselves daily and refuse to go to sleep at night until you feel like you will wake up a better person than you did the day before.
High school isn’t just a check mark to accomplish, it is an opportunity to find out who you are, develop friendships and walk with Christ, and provide a foundation for the young adult you will quickly become.
The moment I realized this, and perhaps my most profound memory from school, was in Jamaica on our Senior Mission trip. Seeing the joy that the locals took in serving one another despite their circumstances helped me and my class discover a new outlook on life; one centered less on ourselves and more on serving others and Christ.
In closing, I am so grateful to my parents for their love and sacrifice that allowed me to attend TC Christian, and for my teachers who poured into me deep knowledge and a love of learning. It was a fantastic time in my life and I thank Jesus every day for all the opportunities He has presented me. I pray my life will always glorify Him!