Junior Maddie Sears starts her day every morning at 4 a.m. Instead of cramming for midterms and fulfilling various common curriculum requirements like other juniors, Sears has spent this semester in Biloxi, Mississippi in technical school at the Keesler Air Force Base.

“I enlisted to help pay for school and because I couldn’t see myself working a regular job for the rest of my life,” Sears said. “I wanted to do something that would actively make a difference instead of working a normal desk job. My parents are also both retired Air Force so I had that background.”

Not only is Sears in school at Keesler AFB, she is also an airman leader and a building chief. These leadership roles put her in charge of 600 of her peers. Sears said it is hard work but enjoys being able to help her peers.

“I hope to gain a purpose in my everyday life as well as educational benefits so that I can finish my degree. To me, to be both an airman and a student means that I have a very diverse range of experiences compared to the people here,” Sears said.

After physical training from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., Sears goes directly to class.

“I go to class from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Then I have briefings and airman leader work from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and after that I grab dinner and go to bed,” Sears said.

Sears is working to graduate with knowledge and experience in cyber security. As a political science and psychology double major, Sears said she thinks her service and military education will help to inform her perspective on military policies, as well as open doors for the future.  

“My training includes a lot of work with switches, routers, cryptographic equipment and configuring networks,” Sears said. “Also switches and routers are things that help to connect a network and allow all of the devices, like laptops, to talk to each other. I have to pass security plus, which is a civilian certification, by the end of my time here to graduate. Communications is very important in the military for war capabilities.”

While Sears is proud of the work she is accomplishing, she said the military often has a more blunt view than her liberal arts peers.

“The military is very straightforward and most people enlist right out of high school not really knowing anything about the world or themselves, so I have a slightly different perspective,” Sears said. “There are things in the military that I assume would be the same as in college, like the same ideas on race or gender equality and things like that but it’s actually not the case.”

Although Sears enjoys serving her nation, she said she does miss Trinity and the relationships she has formed with campus and her peers.

“I have a lot of great friends in my sorority and classes that I honestly consider family and I miss them a lot everyday,” Sears said. “I have received endless support from my boyfriend and my Trinity family.”