Aiming high

Wright State junior Kathryn Fiske’s story about success, failure and finding her true passions

Kathryn Fiske, a crime and justice studies major and Air Force ROTC cadet, learned to manage her interests, studies and life so she could thrive at Wright State.

Ever since she was young, Kathryn Fiske has been involved with numerous activities and responsibilities. When her parents first told her she could be whatever she wanted to be in this world, Fiske went straight to work on figuring out what that was going to be.

“I always loved trying everything,” she said. “From a young age I’ve always been involved in different sports, activities, really anything that I could try and succeed at was something I wanted to do.”

Going into middle school, Fiske had already learned to balance school and her passion for gymnastics. By high school, she was involved in three varsity sports, orchestra and volunteering, all while maintaining grades that qualified her for the National Honor Society. She even spent a year in her school’s improv club.

As high school was coming to an end, Fiske found Wright State University thanks to an online college match quiz. She wanted a school that could combine a great college experience with the opportunities for her to participate in track and field, as well as pursue a military career through Air Force ROTC (AFROTC).

“Wright State checked all the boxes when it came to what I wanted to do,” she said. “It was also close enough to home where I could go home to Cleveland and see my family on long weekends and breaks.”

Excited and determined, Fiske started at Wright State in the fall 2017 semester, majoring in crime and justice studies. Her desire to accomplish so many things at once led to initial struggles. She fell behind with her classes and found it difficult to keep up the responsibilities of the track and field team and AFROTC.

Fiske knew it was time to sit down and think about what she wanted in life, as well as how to succeed and thrive in whatever she chose.

“I had definitely put too much on my plate,” she said. “I needed to decide what I really wanted out of my life so I could focus on succeeding.”

Fiske knew she wanted to stick with AFROTC. Her desire to serve stemmed from her family’s history of military service and being in awe of members of the military as a kid.

“I looked at them as super heroes, and I still do,” she said. “It made me want be a part of something in life that was bigger than myself.”

Not wanting to sacrifice AFROTC or school, she decided to leave the track and field team. While it was difficult, Fiske knew she had to devote more time to things she wanted to do with her life.

“I knew I wasn’t going to end up in the Olympics,” she said. “I loved my teammates, but I had to prioritize what I wanted most out of college.”

She then had to figure out how to balance everything the college experience threw at her. It turned out the answer was something she was very familiar with: calendars.

Growing up, Fiske’s family had a family calendar on which all events and activities were scheduled. Everything from gymnastics practice to family vacations went on the calendar. Updating the calendar was a frequent occurrence in the Fiske household.

“If it didn’t make it on that calendar, it’s like it didn’t exist,” she said.

As much as calendars provided a way to stay updated with family, it also provided Fiske with a way to organize her everyday responsibilities, which helped contribute to better management of her time.

After she graduates from Wright State, Kathryn Fiske wants to commission into the Air Force as a public affairs officer.

Now that she figured out what she wanted to do and how to best manage it, it was time for Fiske to put it all into action. She spent her sophomore year improving her grades and getting more involved with AFROTC. When she started her junior year, she had accomplished some great things. She received a tuition scholarship and was a distinguished graduate at AFROTC Field Training.

Fiske still couldn’t help but get involved in other ways around her community. She participates in a bible study and has a job as a student ambassador in the Wright State Office of Admissions.

Though she may be reaping the benefits of her hard work, Fiske never forgets what she does it all for — her family. On her left arm, she has the birth month flower for each member of her family, including her mom, dad and her two younger siblings.

“I would not be able to do any of this without my family,” she said. “My parents have shown me the type of loving relationship that I want to have in life, and they encourage me to do what makes me happy.”

Fiske is scheduled to graduate in spring 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in crime and justice studies and wants to commission into the Air Force as a public affairs officer.

Through her time at Wright State, Fiske has been through the ups and downs of a college experience, and she knows she has much work left to do. With the help of her loved ones, she found a way to succeed through organization, perseverance and a continuous drive to get better every single day.

For any student who may be struggling, Fiske offers this advice: “Find your specific support system, whether that be in a club, your job or your family. Use them as support to lean on when you are struggling. Also, prioritize what you want to do with your own life. If you enjoy it what you do, it will make the difficult or stressful times worth it.”

“Oh, and keep a calendar.”

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