CAA pilot lands admission to Yale

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dylan Gentile
  • 919th Special Operations Wing

Duke Field, Fla.-- Combat Aviation Advisors spend 18 months training to survive and lead in any environment, with regular deployments and ongoing training for the rest of their career. Each CAA fluently speaks a foreign language and is highly specialized in their respective career field. A Citizen Air Commando and command pilot decided she would take on a new challenge after becoming fully proficient in the career field. Now she is on her way to law school.

Maj. Brianna Thompson, a CAA for the 711th Special Operations Squadron, recently celebrated her admission to Yale University’s prestigious law school.

“I’m proud of myself for taking the risk,” said Thompson. “I think sometimes we can really sell ourselves short.”

The Ivy League school hosts an acceptance rate of 6.5%, and is one of several schools that admitted Thompson.

She earned an undergraduate degree from American University and a master's in public policy from Georgetown University. This combined with her experience on active duty and in the Reserve earned her a place at Yale.

“I’m super excited for Major Thompson,” said Maj. Kenneth Sheyka, another 711th SOS CAA. “This is something she’s worked hard for in her personal time even while helping us out here at the unit.”

Thompson was admitted last year, but deferred to work full time at the squadron supporting exercises, operations, and deployments. Her time serving has also offered her benefits she plans to take advantage of, including the G.I. bill to help pay for school.

”I love my role at the 919th SOW,” said Thompson. “I’m just also very passionate about creating positive change in the world and I believe I can do that through law.”

“My old boss was a public defender and it sounded like such a meaningful and exhausting job,” said Thompson. “I think a lot of us joined the military for a similar reason, to do something we couldn’t do anywhere else.”

News of her admission quickly spread throughout the squadron, and her team reached out to express congratulations and support for this next step in her journey.

“This achievement is something Airmen could take inspiration from,” said Sheyka. “She put all her attention towards achieving this goal and succeeded at something many would consider out of grasp.”

Thompson plans to move to Connecticut for the fall semester. While she will no longer be at Duke Field working full time,  during drill weekends as a traditional reservist.

“I’m excited about the move to the northeast but my family and my reserve family are here,” said Thompson. “At this point this is my home.”

Thompson is just one of many Citizen Air Commandos setting the standard on and off base. Follow the 919th SOW on Facebook and Instagram to see how other Airman are blazing a trail and pushing themselves to be the very best.