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Flying High with Cristela Rochell

This week we’re profiling Cristela Rochell, a UNC Senior who leads the campus’s English lovers and future Air Force officers alike.

Age: 21 Hometown: Goldsboro, NC Majors: English & Political Science Minor: Aerospace Studies

HC: Why did you choose your majors and minor?

CR: I’ve always been passionate about reading books and writing stories, and I loved my English classes growing up. My high school mentor was my favorite English teacher, who inspired me to study Romantic and Victorian poetry/literature in particular. I added on Political Science my junior year because I’m very interested in studying how international relations would directly relate to my job after college. For Aerospace Studies, cadets are required to take one Air Force class every semester, and the University offers it as a minor.

HC: How did you first become interested in ROTC?

CR: I’m a military brat, so I grew up on a military base my whole life. After high school, I had a strong desire to be of service to others and to do something much greater than myself. I joined Air Force ROTC my freshman year of college, and it’s been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.

HC: What’s your favorite part of ROTC?

CR: I love that I am learning leadership skills and that I get to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I get to challenge myself constantly by stepping outside my comfort zone, learn teamwork with others, be in great physical shape, and explore opportunities that most college students don’t have.

HC: You were a flight commander, right? What’s that like?

CR: I applied last spring and was selected as the Cadet Wing Commander in Fall 2017. It’s a semester-long position where I am responsible for working with our active duty officers to effectively lead UNC AFROTC’s cadet wing. I was in charge of nearly 40 cadets and to ensure that we were meeting all of the leadership lab, physical fitness, recruiting, and training objectives. It was a really challenging, but worthwhile experience that taught me so much about leadership, having high expectations, and caring about your people.

HC: What’s your favorite thing about being President of Sigma Tau Delta (UNC’s only English Honor Society)?

CR: My goal is to build up our chapter by actively hosting events, recruiting literary scholars, and to uphold the society’s reputation. My favorite thing is seeing everything come to fruition (all the planning and preparing for our meetings, induction ceremonies, etc.), just to bring together those who love literature.

HC: How do you balance two majors, a minor, and all your extracurricular activities?

CR: Lots and lots of iced coffee! I also de-stress by running, spending time with my family, and studying my Bible.

Cristela with her high school English teacher and mentor

HC: What are your plans for after graduation?

CR: I will commission into the Air Force and will begin active duty by attending Combat Systems Officer Training for two years. I will initially learn to fly planes and serve as a navigator in the aircraft I compete for.

HC: Where is your favorite place to study?

CR: Caffe Driade! Best coffee shop in Chapel Hill, hands down.

HC: How would you describe your time at UNC?

CR: Very busy, but very fun. I challenged myself to try things I did not think I was capable of achieving. When I graduate, I can say I learned what it was like to be a true Tar Heel!

 Best of luck to Cristela in all her future endeavors!

Tessa Palmer

Chapel Hill

Tessa is a senior English major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She enjoys crocheting, watching Netflix, and petting fluffy animals.
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