While serving in the Air Force at Patrick Air Force Base (AFB), Dan Egert watched the shuttle launches from his window at work. In July 2011, he drove several hours from Mississippi to watch the final shuttle launch in person. Although he never dreamed of becoming an astronaut, space, and particularly rockets, always captured his attention. “It was always there,” he says.

Egert, a political science major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and an Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) cadet, will soon be embarking on the career of his childhood imagination. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force on May 10 and graduated from Syracuse University on May 12. On May 20, he will begin his new assignment at Patrick AFB in Florida—the place where he watched space shuttle launches—as a space systems technician. There, he will be a member of the team that puts rockets into orbit, from resupply missions to the International Space Station to satellite deployment.

After serving in the Air Force for four years and then traveling the world by himself for eighteen months, Egert decided to go back to school. He utilized the Warrior-Scholar Project through the OVMA to build academic skills before beginning his studies in 2017. Soon after he enrolled into the Air Force ROTC program.

“Cadet Egert’s experiences and knowledge proved invaluable to the Air Force ROTC  staff and cadets. In every leadership situation, he was able to maximize learning and teaching opportunities, improving himself and fellow cadets,” says Lt. Col. Timothy Kimbrough, commander of Syracuse University’s AFROTC and professor of aerospace studies. “He’s a humble, approachable and credible leader that I’m excited and proud to have leading active-duty airmen in our Air Force.”

At the annual Chancellor’s Review on March 9, Egert was awarded the Professor John A. Meyer Leadership Award, the Commitment to Service Award and the Professor of Aerospace Studies Scholastic Achievement Award.

Read more about Dan Egert’s incredible journey.