By: Erin Madden
BEREA, Ohio – Unlike most seniors in college, Jordyn Miller knows exactly how the next six years of her life will play out: five weeks of flight school in Colorado; one week of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training; and a year at a Naval Air Station, after which she could end up anywhere in the world.
Upon graduation from Baldwin Wallace University in May of 2018, Miller will commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force and begin her six-year contract as a Combat Systems Officer, hoping to one day fly a C130 cargo plane.
In fact, Miller has known that she wanted to join the Air Force since her sophomore year of high school but she didn't want to enlist right away as she still wanted to attend college. After doing her due diligence, she found out about the four-year ROTC program and the scholarship opportunities that are offered.
"I can't even describe the feeling that I got," Miller said. "I just ended up joining and here I am today, almost ready to commission."
Miller's checklist was short when she was considering colleges. Besides ROTC, her school also needed to have a small academic environment and a swim team. That's when a college search engine suggested Baldwin Wallace, almost three hours away from her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
"I typed in schools that had Air Force ROTC programs and swim teams, and I found BW," Miller simply said.
Three varsity letters, two Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference selections and a school record later, Miller can also add OAC Scholar Athlete of the Month to her growing list of accomplishments.
"Jordyn has been an integral part of our roster for her entire career here at Baldwin Wallace," head coach Laura Wolff-Demaline said. "The schedule that she has juggled and balanced with her commitments to ROTC-Air Force, her academics and her sport has certainly been challenging, but Jordyn has handled those challenges with grace every step of the way. I truly believe she is an inspiration to those around her, especially her teammates swimming in the lanes next to her."
Breaking the 800-yard freestyle relay school record wasn't easy, however. Heading into the meet finals at the 2017 OAC Championships, Miller and her teammates knew they each had to swim at least a two-minute split to break the existing school record. As the meet progressed, the senior and relay anchor wasn't sure if they were going to break the record or not.
"I was more focused on the pool than looking at the times," Miller explained. "I just saw the first person's time. The first person's time is easy to see because they touch the wall and you see the time go up. The next person, it's hard to tell what they went, so I wasn't sure. I just went in and said to myself, 'I'm going to swim as fast as I can go, as fast as my legs will go.' When I touched the wall, everyone on the team was jumping up and screaming."
Being both an Air Force ROTC cadet and a member of the swim team has taught Miller a number of valuable lessons, helping her to grow as a person and as an individual.
"What's really important to take away from both ROTC and being a college athlete is the ability to step outside of my comfort zone," Miller said. "Just pushing yourself outside those boundaries is where you will improve yourself."
Aside from stepping out of her comfort zone, both ROTC and swimming have also taught the senior how to be a better leader and teammate.
"She may not always be the most vocal person in the pool but she leads by the example she sets for her teammates," Wolff-Demaline said. "Last year, we awarded Jordyn the 'Coaches Award' because we felt she had done such a great job of leading the younger swimmers and helping them through their transition to college life and collegiate swimming."
Miller added, "With ROTC, it's all about leadership and building on your foundations as a person and making them better. It's for sure helped me as a team member and being able to have active fellowship and active leadership. I can also bring my team aspect of being on an actual team into ROTC. You have to act as a team to be able to accomplish the mission in the end."
Whether that mission is setting another school record or navigating an aircraft, Miller will take all that she's accomplished during her college years and apply it toward working for her new team: the United States Air Force.