Aurora -- Twenty-one-year-old Stephen Hujarski of Aurora is on a mission to become a navigator in the U.S. Air Force.
Receiving his pilot's license at Kent State University at the age of 17, he is the youngest person to do so through the university. While attending Aurora High School, from where he graduated in 2010 with an honors degree, he became a flight student in a post-secondary program.
Now, he is about to start his third year in the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Embry Riddle Aeronautics in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"I'm amazed at how far he's gone with it," said Hujarski's mother, Cynde Hujarski. "He shows amazing dedication to what he wants to do, and when he talks about the military, he sounds very proud of his service."
Hujarski completed four weeks of field training this summer from the end of May through the end of June to become an officer in the Air Force. The first two weeks were at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and the second two were at Camp Shelby, Miss.
During field training, Hujarski had the chance to become a leader. Cadets were able to test their leadership skills and take charge.
"Camp Shelby was a mock deployment," said Hujarski. "We stayed at a tent-like base similar to the Middle East. The staff members represented terrorists."
The cadets were able to get a feel for combat in the Middle East.
Hujarski hopes to be a navigator, managing aircraft missions, guns and bombs and helping the pilot accomplish missions. "My goal is to work on Air Force One," he said.
HUJARSKI IS working toward a bachelor of science degree and anticipates being done with school toward the end of 2015. Eventually, he will be stationed at the Navy Air Station in Pensicola, Fla.
"Deployment could take anywhere from one month to 12 months," he said. "I am confident things will go well."
Hujarski's interest in aircraft began as a child. "I was fascinated that something so big and complex could go up in the air," he said. "I decided I wanted to pursue this career path when I was in the ninth grade."
Hujarski had a difficult first year in ROTC.
"I was one face among 200," he explained. "I was trying to stand out and become recognized and it was very hard to distinguish myself. Now I'm one of 38, and am very fortunate to have gotten this far."
According to his mother, Hujarski has served in the color guard at Embry Riddle, presenting the American flag at various ceremonies.
"I feel he has gone above and beyond in his service to the country," said Mrs. Hujarski. "The job is vigorous and a lot of people would have given up by now, but he went in and proved himself."
Finances also were a difficult part of his schooling.
"I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship that will allow me to graduate debt-free," he said, adding the most enjoyable part of ROTC is bonding with people outside the area according to Hujarski.
"I have friends from Venezuela, Mexico, England, etc," said Hujarski. "I've been able to grow and mature as a person, and have learned how people perceive things differently."
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