This story is one part of a five part series where we highlight seniors with interesting paths after graduation. This is only a small sample of the many students who are doing interesting things.
Two months after graduation, senior civil engineering major John Black will be on his way to Japan. Black is currently a part of the UP’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) program, and will be stationed at the Yokota Air Base in Japan as a second lieutenant. He leaves the first week of August and will be stationed there for at least two years.
Yokota Air Base in Japan is a United States Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force Base in the city of Fussa in Western Tokyo. Before leaving for service, Black will spend some time with his family back home in Hawaii and will be taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam to get his engineering license.
Black chose civil engineering because he always liked math and science. At first, he was a Mechanical Engineering major, but he ended up switching to civil engineering after he had an opportunity to shadow an engineer during his freshman year.
“It seemed really cool and was something I was interested in so I switched major from Mechanical Engineering to Civil Engineering and I really liked it ever since,” Black said.
Black says that his family had a big influence on his decision to join the Air Force. His father, who is currently a power plant operator in Hawaii, used to work in the military for the United States Navy. Two other family members who influenced him to go into the Air Force are his uncles. They also used to be in the Air Force, and one of them is still in service.
“I think I just grew up with kind of a notion that I was given a lot and would like to give back in some way and I knew that service was a way to do that,” Black said.
Black doesn’t know anyone in Japan, but he has visited the country once and enjoyed his time there. While at the base, he will do work related to his field of civil engineering, so he is very excited about that.
“I will also be doing some civil engineering, so I’m really excited to do that because both my interests kind of align,” he said.
Before joining UP, Black lived in Hawaii. He applied to UP because he liked the appeal of the Pacific Northwest.
“(UP) had everything that I was looking for. It had engineering and ROTC and also it’s a small college, it’s close to the city and the classroom sizes seemed ideal,” Black said. “After visiting, everyone here was so nice. I really liked the community. Coming here has proved me right on those instincts and I’m really grateful for it.”
Black says that during his senior year, he has been reflective about the past four years at UP and cherishes the relationships he’s formed. He is currently trying to spend as much time with the people at UP as it’s possible because this is the last year that he will get to do it on campus.
“Your last year studying here doesn’t mean you see the people here for the last time,” Black said. “And classes while they are very important, I am also making some time for people. That’s the most important part for me.”
While Black loved his time at UP and is sad to leave, he says that he is also excited for the next stage of his life in Japan.
“I’ll miss my time here and my friends and just the lifestyle that I started to live here,” Black said. “I’ve become very comfortable. But I am also excited for the next step and what the next four years look like. I’ve loved every moment. I’m excited for the next step and I am just grateful for the time here.”
Anush Hakobyan is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.