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Sources: Lt. Mallory Conlon, 785-532-6600, mconlon@k-state.edu;
Kara Godsil, kgodsil@k-state.edu; and Scott Mall, jetscott@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011

SALINA AIR FORCE ROTC CADETS GO THE EXTRA MILES FOR SUCCESS

SALINA -- It takes time and effort for Air Force ROTC cadets to become commissioned officers in the U.S. Air Force.

But for 12 cadets in Kansas State University's Air Force ROTC Detachment 270, the investment of time and effort also must go the distance. The cadets are students at K-State Salina and make the 60-mile commute once a week to K-State's Manhattan campus to participate in the detachment's activities.

Having cadets on two campuses creates challenges in interaction.

"The biggest challenge is getting to know the other cadets who attend class in Manhattan," said Scott Mall, K-State Salina sophomore in professional pilot, Clay Center.

Lt. Mallory Conlon, K-State Air Force ROTC admissions officer and assistant professor of aerospace studies on the Manhattan campus, says the limited interaction is a challenge, but she said Salina cadets prove their commitment through the added cost and commute time they face.

"Having to travel from Salina, these cadets truly show a level of dedication to our nation, the Air Force ROTC and the profession of arms that perhaps isn't as evident in Manhattan-based cadets," Conlon said.

Normal activities for the detachment include once-weekly leadership labs on the Manhattan campus that have both physical and educational aspects. Salina cadets also have twice-weekly meetings on the Salina campus.

The cadets at K-State Salina say the weekly commutes are worth it.

"Because we want to be here, we are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen," said Kara Godsil, senior in professional pilot, Kansas City, Kan.

That includes taking online classes to ensure cadets are able to participate in aerospace studies courses, which are offered on the Manhattan campus. Salina cadets also pay for their own gas, so carpooling is encouraged. Cadets could be reimbursed for their gas this year, according to Mall.

Because the Salina campus is home to K-State's aviation program, some of the Salina cadets are professional pilot majors. But Godsil said that doesn't make it easier to become a pilot in the Air Force.

"Just because you have a professional pilot degree and a couple hundred hours of flight time doesn't mean you're guaranteed a pilot slot in the Air Force," she said. "Granted, the FAA pilot's license and flight hours help, but everyone competes for pilot slots in the Air Force regardless of their major."

Still, the opportunities available to Godsil as a student at K-State Salina and an Air Force ROTC cadet remain a great selling point.

"I get to pursue my passion of flying while also reaching toward my military goals," she said.