Local woman graduates from the Air Force Academy
—Kylie Kester, who grew up in Fremont and Murphys and has family on the Central Coast, graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado on Wednesday, May 23. The graduating class of 2018 was around 1,000 cadets.
“I wanted to fly planes so the academy got my attention in that sense. I really wanted to travel outside of California for school and the idea of getting a full scholarship/getting paid to go to school was also enticing. It was after I got there that I learned how fulfilling serving in the military is,” said Kester, who participated in club volleyball for three years at the academy.
Leading up to the ceremony was Graduation Week which included activities such as performances of “West Side Story” by the Academy’s Bluebards Theatre Troupe and the Cadet Graduation Concert. The graduation ceremony ended with the traditional hat toss of the cadets while Thunderbirds fly across the stadium to mark the dismissal of the graduating class.
“The graduation ceremony was surreal. All of the speeches were amazing and our march into the stadium was fun but I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. It finally hit me that I was graduating when I threw my hat up and the Thunderbirds flew over. It was spectacular,” said Kester.
For Kester’s operational Air Force experience, she traveled to Qatar where temperatures can get up to 120 degrees. She did maintenance for KC130s, went to the Combined Air Operations Center, and rode a C17 to Oman and Jordan.
To celebrate her graduation, Kester traveled to Southeast Asia on her 60 days leave. When she returns, Kester will train as a Space Operations officer at Vandenberg Air Force Base working with space launch operations before starting work. Kester’s future plans include receiving her master’s degree that will relate to her Operations Research major, which is “basically a little bit of math, economics, computer science, and management all mushed together to form one big major”, or a space operations/management program.