JPCatholic Alumnus joins the Air Force

Christopher McCarthy graduated from John Paul the Great Catholic University in 2017 with a Bachelor degree in Communications Media. He works in the United States Air Force as an ‘AMMO Troop’, a Munitions Systems specialist dealing with ammunition and explosives. McCarthy is stationed at the Aviano Air Base in Italy, working with fighter jets. The job also involves a lot of back-end paperwork, computer-based training, forklift driving, and munitions assembly.

McCarthy takes pride in his work each day and realizes he is protecting his family and friends at home. He said he knows it sounds cliché, “But honestly, that’s what motivates me to keep doing the best job I possibly can”. McCarthy also sees his fellow Airmen as extended family. “We tend to look out for each other, on and off work. I guess you could say the best part of the job is the people I work for and with.”

The main reason McCarthy joined the Air Force was simply for the challenge. “When I graduated JPCatholic… I felt that I had let my family down for failing to get a job in the media industry, despite them having made huge financial sacrifices to get me there. I refused to accept that situation, so I decided it was time for me to make some sacrifices of my own and do something I never thought I could do before. Becoming financially independent from my family and doing something that I know makes them proud is my small way of giving back to them for everything they did for me when I was in college.”

McCarthy views JPCatholic as having been crucial to his personal growth. Otherwise, he would’ve never joined the military. “My childhood was very sheltered, and I wasn’t entirely prepared for the challenges of being an adult in today’s world until I finally faced and overcame them in a controlled environment like JP[Catholic]. Because of my time spent in college, I am now more appreciative of home, more productive at work, and more confident with strangers. And that foundation of growth which JPCatholic laid for me, the Air Force has only built upon.”

“If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that I can’t change the world by myself.” McCarthy hopes he can at least make a positive impact on the people around him, even if it’s as simple as making someone laugh. “Here in the Air Force, a person’s attitude at work can literally mean the difference between life and death, as the assets we work with are so dangerous that we always have to keep our head in the game. So, simple things like that can go a long way toward impacting the culture of my work center, and ultimately, the culture of families around the world.”

In the future, Chris plans to part ways with the Air Force after his enlistment is up in 2022. He hopes that by then he’ll be able to pay off his student loans, travel, and set himself up for success in the civilian sector. Chris speculates he may even consider a religious vocation. 

One piece of advice Chris would like to give to the graduating class of 2018 would be to follow your passion, but keep your options open. “Sometimes what we think is the perfect career or way of life for us isn’t actually. I could never have imagined I’d be where I am today if I hadn’t broadened my perspective to consider alternatives outside of my initial hopes and goals. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and reevaluate your position in life, and maybe try something new or unexpected. The results may surprise you in a positive way. As we like to say in the Air Force: ‘Adapt and Overcome.'”

His advice for the underclassmen is to figure out what you’re really good at and double down on it. “The biggest mistake I made while at JP[Catholic] was to put my eggs in too many baskets. While other students were really good at cinematography or sound or editing, I was kind of okay at all three. The media industry is very competitive. Being kind of okay won’t land you a job. I would pick one aspect of filmmaking or business that you love and are pretty good at, and work day and night to become the best at that one thing. That will be your value proposition. That will separate you from your peers and make you someone that people want to hire…being a positive person makes a good impression too.”