KILLEN — Brooks High School alumna Savannah Farris was “teeming with anxiety” when she was called into her commander’s office at Troy University in late April.
Initially, the rising senior in Troy’s Air Force ROTC program was calm as she took her seat, expecting the meeting to be about her flight scholarship. The commander had other news he wanted to bring up, though.
“This isn’t about your scholarship,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Cox.
That was the point the anxiety kicked in, and it only increased as Cox explained how qualified each of the six rising seniors was to take on the role of wing commander in the fall.
“So, we just called you in here to tell you that you got the position,” Cox said.
“No way” was all Farris could respond.
“I couldn’t keep the smile off my face for the rest of the day,” she said.
Farris said she and her fellow rising seniors in AFROTC Detachment 017 had to develop a new vision and direction in which they would want to take their detachment next semester if appointed wing commander.
They then presented those plans to their cadre, or leadership, taking time to explain how they would implement their ideas.
“The main goal of every commander is to leave things better than they were before,” Farris said, which could mean introducing new ideas, altering old ones, or a mix of both. “They balance their vision, cadre’s vision, as well as their team’s vision for what will ultimately make the detachment better.”
As wing commander, Farris will become the face of her detachment and represent all the other cadets. She will also serve as the “direct line of communication” from cadets to cadre.
To achieve the balance in visions, Farris said she will have to delegate time between multiple positions, overseeing areas such as training, operations and public affairs.
The most recent of Farris's family members to serve in the military was her grandfather — a Navy officer. She said she decided to try ROTC the spring semester of her freshman year after friends who had participated the previous semester encouraged her.
She discussed it with her parents, who told her to "go for it and see where God takes it."
“Throughout my entire journey I have had my family, friends and peers to support and mentor me,” Farris said. “Our current commander (Cox) has also been an important mentor in this chapter of my journey into the Air Force.”
Farris said she plans to make a career out of the United States Air Force. She aspires to fly as either a C-130 pilot, or be a Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilot. The latter, she said, is an officer who flies drones.
Following retirement, Farris said she plans to apply the skills she gained in the Air Force to a humanitarian job in the civilian sector.
In preparation for her dream to be a pilot, Farris is currently attending Liberty University’s School of Aeronautics for an accelerated eight-week program through which she will earn her private pilot license.
That’s the program she earned a scholarship to attend, the same one she thought she would be discussing that day she learned of her wing commander appointment.
She said she had heard about the opportunity through AFROTC headquarters.
Prior to beginning the program, Farris said she had to complete an online ground school to familiarize herself with the concepts she would be learning.
In true pilot spirit, Farris said she “really loves to travel” and explore new places when she can, but she also enjoys a more easygoing lifestyle when she comes home.
“While I’m at home, I tend to keep to myself and spend time on Wilson Lake just enjoying the water,” she said.
While the program is keeping Farris “crazy busy” this summer, she has plenty more to look forward to when she returns to Troy in the fall for her senior year. In addition to taking on the wing commander's role, she will continue her studies for a rehabilitation major and a Spanish minor.
Farris said she encourages anyone who is interested in joining the military and becoming a leader to get involved with ROTC, and above all else, not to let fear be an obstacle.
“The knowledge that is instilled throughout those years that you are in the program are beyond beneficial, regardless of your service time in the military,” she said. “Be confident in the fact that you are where you are for a reason. Control what you are able to control, and the rest will fall into place.”