By the time she graduated from high school, Maureen Hartney had already lived in four states and three foreign countries. When she graduates from the University of Florida on May 3, she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, the same military branch that opened up the world to her as a child.
Hartney, 21, will follow in the footsteps of her father, a retired Air Force colonel.
She learns this month where she will be stationed after requesting to be sent Texas in order to be near family. Living in so many different places growing up taught her she will succeed in any location.
“Moving around when I was younger and learning to adjust in different places was an invaluable experience for me,” Hartney said.
Hartney was honored as the Air Force Association Cadet of the Year in September, an award honoring the top college Air Force ROTC cadet in the country. Her involvement in the detachment includes being a member of the drill team, and last semester she acted as wing commander. At the beginning of the spring 2008 semester, she became special assistant to the wing commander as well as organizer of the Lime Cup detachment competition.
The political science and history major joined UF’s Air Force ROTC in her freshman year. Growing up in the Air Force atmosphere, Hartney said it was “meant to be” when she began excelling in the program.
“Joining ROTC really broke UF down into a little niche for me,” she said. “Now my life is ROTC, and all my friends are in it.”
Hartney began working on her private pilot’s license in to prepare for training. She has logged five of the 50 hours needed to complete it.
She hopes to fly F-16s in Italy someday, but she won’t know what she’ll end up piloting until she sees her body’s reaction in flight during training.
“I can definitely see myself making this my career,” Hartney said.
Her hard work and devotion have left quite an impression on the ROTC program. Its recent successes include winning best medium-sized detachment last summer.
Hartney said her accomplishments and that of the program can be attributed to a mantra that cadets live by when they join:
“We try to leave the detachment better than we found it,” she said.
- Photo credit: Kristen Bartlett Grace — University Photography