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Local Graduate Heading for Career in the “Wild Blue Yonder”

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Central High School graduate, Kelsey Barats-Shumate, grew up in a military family, so it’s not surprising that she decided to pursue a career in the Armed Forces. What may be surprising is that she chose the Air Force rather than the Coast Guard, since her father spent twenty-seven years in that branch of the military. 

“I applied to the Coast Guard Academy and was offered an appointment, but I chose the Air Force Academy because the Air Force has more opportunities in public affairs (her chosen career path) than the Coast Guard,” Kelsey stated. 

The qualifications to be admitted to any of the service academies are stringent and include strength of character and leadership potential, high grades, recommendations by school officials and, of course, physical fitness. You must also submit a well-written essay showing the unique aspects and experiences of your life. Recommendation by your local congressman is also necessary. In Kelsey’s case, it was Congressman Daniel Webster who nominated her to the Air Force Academy. 

Kelsey’s academic excellence made her an ideal candidate.  Her favorite subject in school is English, which will serve her well in public affairs. “I enjoy writing immensely and I have wanted to pursue journalism for as long as I can remember,” Kelsey remarked. 

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Besides excelling in school, she enjoys a variety of other pursuits, including, soft ball, reading and hiking. She has been a member of the Navy Junior ROTC since her freshman year. Kelsey has also done community service with the Hernando County Youth Court and through a peer mentoring program to help students with disabilities. The future Air Force cadet plans to major in Political Science and then become a Public Affairs Officer.

 Going off to college is a major transition for a young adult, but living more than 1,800 miles away from home in a disciplined environment would be a challenge for anyone. “The most challenging thing about the Air Force Academy will be the culture shock I receive when I get there. I know that it will be a very demanding and structured environment, but I am excited and prepared for it.”

However, there will be many rewards as well. “I am looking forward to meeting lifetime friends at the Academy and I am excited to forge bonds with fellow cadets.”

After Kelsey graduates, she plans to make a career in the Air Force. A military life isn’t easy and there are many sacrifices, but there are also many rewards and opportunities.   

“Once I am actually in the service, I think that the most challenging thing will be living away from all of my family. In spite of this, I am very excited to travel and see new places.”

Kelsey’s mother, Tina, and father, Jeff, have been a guiding force in her life and have encouraged her along the way. “I would like to thank my parents for pushing me to do well throughout my academic career and for encouraging me to have big dreams. My father inspired me to apply to the Air Force Academy. I spent my formative years witnessing how well the Coast Guard treated him and how he enjoyed it. He instilled in me the desire to serve my country.”

With her desire to achieve and her determination, Kelsey’s future is bright. Who knows, with the knowledge of Political Science that she obtains from the Air Force Academy, we might be looking at a future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.    


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