From BC to DC: One alumni’s journey from KCC to the Air Force

Ian Bush

Editor’s note: The following is a submission from Kellogg Community College alumnus Ian C. Bush, a staff sergeant (E-5) in the U.S. Air Force.

When I graduated from Harper Creek High School in 2011, I was nervous and had a lot of trepidation about the next step in my life. I knew I was going to college, it was pounded into my head to do that the first time and not wait by my parents and the teachers and role models I had in my life. I knew I wanted to be a firefighter, this dream burned inside me since I was 14 years old. I knew that I had a brand new book deal that landed me on the front page of the Enquirer newspaper and laid the path of a potential successful career field before I even left high school. Yet, I was still nervous and had that creeping feeling that maybe I did not have it all together.

Naturally, I picked Kellogg Community College to pursue my educational goals of the Fire Science Program. The college seemed like it had everything I needed to succeed. Everything was smooth at that time, I went to school, then go to work, hang out with my girlfriend, all the simple things that made life good. While all this was happening, something else was stirring inside me. I started seeing that I wanted to break free of Battle Creek and get experiences outside of the city, and looking back I think it was because I wanted to come back with all the things I learned in the world and make the city and state that I loved a better place to be. Making one of the biggest decisions of my life, I raised my right hand and joined the United States Air Force.

My first duty station was at Grand Forks, North Dakota. Then I got an assignment notification to work at the Pentagon on the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff’s Directorate for Intelligence. In both locations, despite all the adversity, I was able to help my peers, work on projects worth millions of dollars, and even completed my goals of continuing my writing career and becoming a firefighter at my local volunteer fire station. In my wildest dreams did I think a guy from Battle Creek, Michigan, would be working at the Pentagon, let alone meeting some of the senior most leaders in the United States of America. I naturally wanted to do a good job and at the best of my ability and the Air Force allowed me to have that personality. By no means was this always easy, I did not always make or have the right answer, but I learned and sharpened my talents.

I wrote all this not to tell you all how “successful” I am, but to tell you this. You are more than just Battle Creek, Michigan. It took going KCC to push into my head that I desired something more than just the typical work and lifestyle. I needed something more, and this college pushed me into the direction I needed to succeed. My why every day was “because it was expected of me” and I did not find my true why until 2015, when my beautiful little girl made her appearance in my life. Now, every thing I do in the Air Force, everything I do for other people, everything I create is done because I want to make the world a better place for her and those she cares about.

All this success came with many costs though, it was not all sunshine and rainbows all the time. I had a difficult time transitioning into a new father, husband and Airman. I lost a lot of people and things in my life due to my decisions, both personally and professionally. I have grown distant from a lot of my family and old friends, I made a lot of mistakes. At the end of the day, I have faced a lot of struggles and have a few regrets in my life that I hope I can remedy one day to make amends in my life and the lives of others I have hurt. At the end of day, everything in this journey was worth it when I found my purpose and my why with my daughter. When my daughter was born, every adversity before and after her taught me something to teach her, every mistake taught me something to teach her, every day taught me something to teach her.

If you are a new KCC and just starting the path of your life out, I welcome you to the countless others who have done the same thing before you and I want to tell you something that maybe I never heard. You. Are. Not. Alone. You may not have it all together, but that is okay. Lean into your peers, lean into your family, lean into the faculty and staff, and if you get something stirring inside of you and you want to break free of Battle Creek, take the plunge and do it. After a while, you will start to change your mindset and your reality will change you from a “supported” to a “supporting” function. Those around you will confide in you and find comfort that, even though you may not feel like it, you have it more together than you think. I would also push you to find your why and work to make yourself someone who should be admired. Just now, at 28 years old, I am finding my why and working to make me someone who could be admired by others. Many years of professional and personal development has brought me to a place that I can be confident I can leave a positive impact on others. There are some people who are not so lucky, some people live and die not knowing why they exist and they don’t work to make themselves someone who can transcend the hands of time in other people’s lives. I say all this to challenge you.

Who knows, maybe you will be the next person from BC to DC, and KCC may get you on that path to success.

Ian Bush is a father, Airman, author and fireman. Bush started his writing career in 2010 and has published 12 books in that time period. He started his career in the Air Force in 2013 and has been stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB), ND, Pentagon, VA, and Cannon AFB, NM. In that time period, he has personally touched the lives of many Department of Defense personnel and civilian populace through his administration profession and his writing and firefighting passions. His efforts have been lauded presidentially and at the Department of Defense numerous times. Bush obtained his Basic Emergency Medical Technician Certificate in 2011 from Kellogg Community College.

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