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Cadet finds challenges, path to leadership at OTS

Officer Training School Cadet Jacob Turner, shown taking part in a Home Expeditionary Leadership Exercise at Air University, July 15, 2018, is a recent Clemson University graduate and flight leader for his OTS class. Turner said his experience at OTS has prepared him for leadership roles and created a path to his aspiration of becoming an Air Force pilot. (Courtesy photo)

Officer Training School Cadet Jacob Turner, shown taking part in a Home Expeditionary Leadership Exercise at Air University, July 15, 2018, is a recent Clemson University graduate and flight leader for his OTS class. Turner said his experience at OTS has prepared him for leadership roles and created a path to his aspiration of becoming an Air Force pilot. (Courtesy photo)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Cadet Jacob Turner decided to attend Officer Training School because he wanted to become a part of something much bigger than himself.

A recent Clemson University graduate with no military experience, Turner said completing the challenging and rewarding leadership school is the first step toward his aspirations of being an aviator in the U.S. Air Force.

"Though I'm not going to directly apply my degree in my future career path, it prepared me well for the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, applying for OTS and the academic assessments at OTS,” said Turner, who has a degree in biomedical engineering.

The 22-year-old considers his age to be the most challenging aspect of training so far. He is considerably younger than the other members of his flight and class.

“It’s been challenging to take charge and assert myself when I am the youngest person in the room, by far,” he said. “Week by week, after soaking up the advice and mentorship of those around me, I feel I have made strides in developing my assertiveness and leadership skills.”

In addition to the regular OTS responsibilities, Turner was selected to be a flight leader, a position that put him in the leadership role of at least 15 cadets during the second week of training.

"The flight leader position helped me to come out of my shell and develop my followership capabilities as an echo of the leadership I had the opportunity to develop during the week. It felt great to march everyone past the military training instructors and OTS staff," he said.

With graduation from OTS coming up soon on Aug. 24, Turner said he’s exceptionally pleased with how close his flight has become.

"I can honestly say that they have been the most positive aspect of my training," he said. “My flight has infectious morale-boosting abilities, from our supportive members, to our jokesters, and our motivational speakers. They keep me grounded and push me to grow. We always take the time to bring everyone in our flight up to our level of expectations.”

Networking with cadets outside of his flight is also important to him.

“Personally, I look forward to those brief chunks of time where I can really get to know the cadets around me and get a genuine look into their personalities and passions,” he said. “It has taught me a lot about ‘knowing your people,’ and I look forward to any five- or six-minute conversation I can have with a fellow cadet.”

Turner said his selection for Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training was another high point to his experience at OTS. He said he was honored to even have been considered for ENJJPT, a competitive program, alongside so many highly qualified cadets and hopes to progress into fighters.