‘He believed she could fly’ – ROTC student finds unexpected career path in college

Anna Samuel wanted to be an Air Force officer like her parents when she attended UM. However, that changed when she realized she had the potential to become a fighter pilot.
Photo Courtesy: Anna Samuel

Anna Samuel grew up in a military household and thought about becoming an Air Force officer like both her parents.

So when she enrolled at the University of Miami, Samuel joined the Air Force ROTC program and set her goals on commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Air Force after graduation.

But at a midterm counseling session during spring semester of her sophomore year, Samuel embraced a new career goal.

“I went in that meeting with no goal in mind, but I left with the confidence to become a fighter pilot,” Samuel said.

In a manner of speaking, Samuel had fighter pilot DNA. Her father, Charles Samuel, had been a fighter pilot. But when she joined the ROTC program, her dad did not suggest that she follow in his footsteps, Samuel said.

Rather, it would be Lt. Col. Damon Ingram, who was the detachment commander at UM’s Air Force ROTC, who would encourage her. He saw her potential and told her that she had the mental, physical and leadership characteristics to become a successful fighter pilot, Samuel said.

He believed she could fly.

During her next two years at UM, Anna Samuel went from a “quiet cadet” to self-assured and determined.

“I became more confident in myself and stepped up in ROTC and in the classroom,” she said.

Anna Samuel is currently the wing commander for the Air Force ROTC detachment on campus, which is the highest position a cadet can hold. Receiving a pilot slot in the U.S. Air Force is the result of a competitive process that requires candidates to have high GPAs and excel in all ROTC activities.

Anna Samuel’s dedication paid off.

She has been selected for her first phase of pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. She plans to make career in the Air Force and fly A-10s, just like her father.