Dream of Navy Aviation Pushes ATU Alumna

Micah Hunter calls becoming an aviator in the U.S. Navy her dream.

The pursuit of that dream has led her from Russellville High School to Arkansas Tech University to Officer Candidate School, and within the next year, it could take her literally anywhere on Earth.

“I’ve always been kind of a risk taker,” said Hunter. “I always want to go and do something I am passionate about, and that makes it easier. I grew up seeing it in action with my family and my dad, so to me it is not anything out of the normal.”

Her father, Billy Hunter, retired from the U.S. Navy at the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Her uncle, Ray Hunter, served in the U.S. Air Force. Additional members of her family have also made the sacrifice of military service.

Hunter always kept that family tradition in mind as she graduated from RHS in 2010, earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism from ATU in 2013 and completed her Master of Science degree in emergency management and homeland security from ATU in 2015.

Tech is also a family tradition for Hunter. Her mother, Marcia Hunter, is a former employee of the Tech bookstore and she has two sisters, Britney Austin and Callie Fritts, who attended ATU.

“It was an easy decision,” said Hunter, who carries a reminder of ATU with her in the form of a Jerry the Bulldog patch on the right arm of her uniform. “This is the one place I applied to and the one place I wanted to go for college. I had the Navy in mind as what I wanted to do, so I knew getting my degree (at ATU) would be a good stepping stone to continue in that direction.”

Hunter points to Jessica Brock, now the director of admissions at ATU, and Anthony Caton, head of the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism, as two of her top mentors while a student at Arkansas Tech.

Strangely enough, producing a weekly television program at Tech TV was good preparation for serving as a Navy aviator.

“You are managing a million things going on at once, managing a lot of people and being able to communicate with them,” said Hunter while reflecting on her days in the TV studio.

Since completing her degrees, Hunter has finished Officer Candidate School and reached the junior officer rank of Ensign in the U.S. Navy. She is preparing to become a Naval flight officer, a job that would make her responsible for communications, weapons systems and radar systems on an E-2 Hawkeye tactical aircraft.

She has completed eighteen months of training that will soon allow her to move up in class. The reward will be another year of training before she earns her first fleet tour and deployment with an aircraft carrier.

Along the way, she has overcome injury and much more.

“Being away from my family is the biggest one,” said Hunter when asked about the sacrifices of service. “I’ve always been super close to them. The rewards are getting to fly in cool planes and do something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Hunter returned to Russellville High School on Wednesday, March 28, to share her story with students. She was excited to tell them about the U.S. Navy and the variety of opportunities it provides. She was even more excited to serve as an example of why goals and the relentless pursuit of them are worth the effort.

“I hope they know it’s out there for them,” said Hunter. “Whatever they have in their heart that they want to do, it is worth doing if it’s going to make them happy. You have to be passionate about what you do. If you are, then you aren’t really working. I get to go and play every day. There is a lot of training and things I’ve gone through where I have gotten hurt or held up, but pushing through it has been worth it. People ask me why I keep going. You don’t give up on a dream.”