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Military Speaker Gives Insight into Uncommon Path for Rockhurst Grads

Lt. Brady Bird, ’15, talks to students about his career as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 9, 2023.

Wake up.


Fly a multimillion dollar aircraft once or twice.

Work on other responsibilities.

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This is an abbreviated average day in the life of Lt. Brady Bird, member of the Air Force and Rockhurst alumnus from the Class of 2015. Rockhurst students received the opportunity to hear from Bird as part of the Alumni Career Panel speaker series on Thursday, Nov. 9 to learn about careers in the military and the path he took to get where he is in now.

Bird began by talking about his everyday life in the Air Force, which includes one to two flights in his A-10 “Warthog” each day, and then performing his other various duties.

He then addressed how he became a member of the Air Force. Bird first started in the ROTC program at Purdue University after he wasn’t able to be accepted to the Air Force Academy. At Purdue, he majored in aerospace engineering.

A-10C Thunderbolt II (Warthog) (Courtesy

Bird says he always wanted to fly an A-10 since he was young, so choosing the Air Force was an easy decision, because they are the only branch of the military with that particular plane.

The path to the Air Force is not easy, as one could imagine. Bird says he had to go through different tasks and a competitive environment to gain a spot as a pilot. But he said the hardships were more mental than physical.

“It was challenging,” Bird said. “It wasn’t like anything I had ever experienced.”

He says the biggest challenge he now faces is how busy he is and how it affects his family life.

Bird says he learned valuable lessons throughout his journey. He told the audience of current students to learn how to fail, saying that everyone eventually makes mistakes, and we should learn from them. Bird also mentioned how it is important to be able to handle stress and adapt to it, which is a beneficial skill for anyone–whether in the cockpit of a Warthog or not.

Lt. Bird is currently stationed in South Korea, but came into Kansas City for a wedding using some of the 30 days of leave allowed per year in the Air Force. Military workers are usually active for ten years, but Bird stated he is still deciding on what he would like to do. He said he’s leaning towards making it a full career.

The military is not a common path Rockhurst students usually take. College counselors say only a handful of graduating seniors each year typically go into the ROTC, and even fewer go to a military academy. Still, Director of Library Services Dr. Tiffany Rinne, who helps coordinate the speakers for the Alumni Career Panels, says they wanted to bring in a military speaker to add diversity to the various careers they feature.

“Our overall goal is to make students more informed about what career options they have for themselves,” Rinne said. “I know a majority of students in high school don’t know what most careers entailed so it can be really helpful for students to hear what a day in their life is like.”

Senior Gavin Honan is one student looking toward the military.

“I would like to do NROTC to become a logistics officer for the Navy, but I am also considering ROTC for the Army as well.”

Although Lt. Bird’s path is not a common one many Rockhurst graduates take, Honan says that doesn’t mean it can’t be one possible direction a student takes after graduation.

“I believe the military is a valid post-high-school option–even though Rockhurst is a college prep school, because I will still be attending college, and my high school education will help me through the rest of my academic career.”


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About the Contributor
Jackson Sifers, Staff Reporter
This is the second year for me on the newspaper staff. I wanted to write for the newspaper, because I enjoy writing as a whole and generally find it to be one of my academic strong suits. I picked this class again, because I wanted to pick a class that would be enjoyable for me my senior year. It doesn't hurt that being part of student media can look attractive on a college resume as well. Outside of the newspaper, I’m involved in the Spanish Club. My future goals include graduating from Rockhurst, and then graduating college with a business degree. My first year of newspaper was filled with great times and lots of amazing learning experiences, and I am very excited to find out what my second year has to offer.
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