HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The daughter of an Air Force colonel here recently received notifications that she had been awarded academic scholarships, which she will use at a prestigious research university.
Violet Felt, daughter of Col. Eric Felt, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and Sandy Felt, 519th Software Maintenance Squadron, won a $2,000 scholarship from the Scholarships for Military Children Program, which is administered by the Fisher House Foundation; she applied for the scholarship at the Hill AFB Commissary. She also received a full Air Force ROTC scholarship and a student loan through the Military Officers Association. All will be used while she attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
Felt, who graduated last spring from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, is excited about her future and plans to earn a degree in a STEM-related field; MIT is well renowned for its curriculums in science and technology.
“I’m leaning toward a major called Course 9, which is brain and cognitive science,” she said. “It involves a mixture of computer science, chemistry, philosophy, and neuroscience. But honestly that could change in the first semester that I’m there.”
In addition to the tough MIT academic environment, Felt is considering other learning options.
“I definitely want to do a semester abroad somewhere, maybe Germany because I speak German,” she said. “It would be fun. A lot of undergraduates do research projects and internships every summer, so we’ll see.”
Based on her workload through high school, she figures she will be able to balance MIT academics with ROTC and other commitments.
“In high school I was incredibly busy and had to do a lot of time organization. I had a job that I worked at 30 hours per week and then I was on the cross country team. I also did theater performances all throughout the year and was in a bunch of environmental impact clubs and [practiced] American Sign Language,” Felt said. “I didn’t really have a lot of free time so I think college will be similar to that.”
Being a military child presented challenges for Felt, but nothing impossible to overcome. To continue her schooling in Virginia, she stayed there with family friends while her family moved to different bases.
“It was definitely difficult not having my parents to rely on for the past three years and having to learn how to do everything for myself,” she said, “but I wanted to stay behind and keep working at my school.”
Growing up in a military family meant Felt had to adapt to frequent changes. However, the experiences she had were worth it.
“I actually wrote one of my college essays about [being a military child],” she said. “I define ‘home’ differently now. It’s no longer a place for me, but a group of people. My family is my home whether we go abroad or stay here or move to different places. I’ve been exposed to a lot more cultures than people who live in the same place their whole lives. I’m way better at making friends quickly now because most places I only stay for a year. I’m also better at saying goodbye, unfortunately.”
Asked what advice she would give to military family members seeking scholarships and applying for colleges and universities, Felt said that essays were important.
“I wrote a lot of essays in the fall of my senior year and I think the most important thing is to make sure that your personality comes through—whether you’re funny or serious or sarcastic—because that’s what they’re looking for,” she said. “They can see all your grades and extracurricular activities, but they want to know who you are as a person through your essays.”
After MIT, Felt will serve in the Air Force for at least four years on active duty. After that, her options will be many. Whatever path she chooses, her military upbringing, academic accomplishments, and eventual Air Force service will leave her well prepared!