Thoughts of a Future Second Lieutenant

Hello everyone! My name is Paige Bernklau, and I am one of six new interns spending their summer at AFA National in the heart of Arlington, VA.  As I have an interest in public affairs, I couldn’t be more excited to begin my intern rotation in the Communications Department. I am so excited for all the opportunities I will have and lessons to be learned over the course of this summer! I am an incoming senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, double-majoring in Sociology and Political Science. These majors target my interests in government relations, and human and societal behaviors, allowing me to divulge further into learning and understanding their influence. However, I take great pride in calling myself a cadet in Air Force ROTC. 

That's me in the purple shirt!

That's me in the purple shirt!

            Air Force ROTC has been an absolute blessing in my life. If you had bumped into 16-year-old Paige on the street in Medford, Wisconsin, and asked her how she would spend her life in college, you would have gotten a response something like this:

Well I would love to play hockey in college, but realistically, that probably isn’t going to happen. So I’ll attend UW-Madison and go to football games, cheer on the Badgers, then graduate and get a job where I can help people, and wear cute shoes.

My, how things have changed since my high school days! Back then, though I was very active in sports, clubs, and student government, where I served as Student Council president, I didn’t feel like I fully knew what my passion was – other than hockey, of course. Luckily, I was exposed to various leadership opportunities that provided a new narrative to my interests and strengths. Knowing that I liked to work and lead people, I had a foundation to start planning the rest of my life. And then I found it. I found the driving force of my passion and provided a future that I could be excited about, all thanks to being introduced to the amazing world of AFROTC.

            After becoming a cadet in the Fall of 2013, I never could have predicted the incredible impact AFROTC would have on me or my future, but I am so very grateful. Aside from being an avenue to attend university and commission as an officer, ROTC teaches valuable lessons outside the classroom as well.

One of the most focused training experiences of the program was Field Training at Maxwell AFB, which occurs the summer between the cadet’s 200 and 300 year. At Field Training, cadets are introduced to numerous enlisted and officer members of our Air Force. We heard their stories in order to learn from their success and mistakes, and, equally important, to have role models that we hope to emulate one day. At each ROTC detachment, they have their own cadre and resources which generate another entire network of lessons and experiences. 

ROTC is an ever-growing community, which provides experiences, advice, and guidance in ways than extend far past university faculty members or textbooks. And like other sectors of the Air Force, ROTC is just a gateway to filter you into an environment where unlimited opportunities exist.

Although I am not a 2nd Lieutenant yet, I am dedicated to this challenging path and committed to serving our nation honorably. I hope you will continue to follow my journey and gain insight into the life of an upcoming 2nd Lieutenant. I will be posting blog entries throughout the summer to provide a glimpse into my experiences and also offer advice to my fellow Wingmen.

Stay tuned and Aim High.