Allison Wilkerson grew up in the same town, in the same house her entire life. Now, after graduating from Purdue this past week, she will be traveling the world working in one of the most dangerous careers imaginable.
Wilkerson, who will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force (USAF), piled up awards along the way to completing her ROTC training at Purdue. She served as the commander of the Detachment’s Arnold Air Society, an elite group within the program and was named the most outstanding commander of the 134 unites in the Midwest.
Now, she heads far from Indiana — Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas to become an intelligence officer.
“Christmas break my freshman year, I came home after being a history major first semester and talked to my parents,” recalls Allison of her journey, one that took an unexpected path from there. “I wanted to work in the FBI or CIA, and military experience helped you get into one of those. I joined the ROTC into the second semester and I kind of fell in love with it. Everyone always talks about the Air Force family, and I definitely got to experience it.”
“I was pretty touched,” said her father, Jay, upon hearing that his daughter wanted to go into the USAF. “My father is an Army veteran and their maternal grandfather also is, but neither I nor my former wife are veterans, so we were surprised. You worry a little bit. Your children are putting themselves in harm’s way, but the pride takes over.”
Allison credits her parents for her success, growing up in a household rife with expectations with an emphasis placed on hard work and no short cuts.
“My parents were hard on us with grades, and I learned early on to just do your best,” she recalls. “Once I got into higher stress leadership roles, I’d call on my friends and family and ask for support. The cadre members of our detachment were excellent as well. There were a couple nights though I’d call my parents at 2 or 3 in the morning and complain to them.”