AU student becomes first ROTC Cadet from D.C. to enter Space Force
“I am really looking forward to creating something that’s very different than what’s ever been done before.”
American University senior Alexis de Silva will make history as the first ROTC cadet from D.C. to officially join the new U.S. Space Force as an intelligence officer upon graduation in May 2022.
First announced by President Donald Trump in 2018, the military branch was met with mixed reactions from the public, with some questioning the need for a military presence in space affairs. Despite this, de Silva is excited to become a part of the new group.
“I am really looking forward to creating something that’s very different than what’s ever been done before,” de Silva said.
Since the Space Force was announced, the U.S. Air Force has become a sister service to the new branch. This means that both branches operate under the larger Department of the Air Force, and that the Space Force is largely made up of qualified personnel who were set to go into, or were already in, the Air Force.
When she began in the Air Force ROTC as a freshman, de Silva did not give much consideration to the newest branch of the military. However, she later signed a document allowing her to be placed in the Space Force instead of the Air Force if she were needed there instead, which led to her recruitment in mid-January of this year.
“When I saw that email [saying] that I got into the Space Force for intelligence, I could not keep still; I literally was jumping in my room,” de Silva said.
Because she does not yet know what mission she will be assigned after completing training, de Silva’s responsibilities as an intelligence officer may involve work ranging from satellite work, orbital warfare or cyberwarfare.
De Silva is participating in an educational delay program to finish both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at AU before entering into her military position. She plans to graduate this spring with a bachelor's in statistics and a minor in political science and earn a master’s in data science for microeconomic analysis in May 2022. After completing her master’s degree, she will travel to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, for training.
As for how long she’ll stay with the branch, de Silva is not sure yet. Previously, she received an Air Force scholarship that requires her to serve for at least four years; however, now that she knows she is going into the Space Force, she said she sees herself staying for much longer.
“There are so many more opportunities to spearhead when you’re in a new branch, and so the leadership opportunities and the project opportunities — all of that combined, for me — deserves more than the four years,” de Silva said.
Outside of her studies at AU, de Silva is currently an intern at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. There, she works in program evaluation, and hopes her connections to the agency may serve as a future resource while serving in the Space Force.
Maxwell Air Force Base did not respond for comment.