Architecture major accepted into prestigious combat pilot training program
It would be impressive if Duck Yim, a fifth-year honors architecture major and Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (AFROTC) Cadet, had merely started a philanthropic organization while completing his undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University. It would be downright incredible if while doing this, Yim also had the motivation to run multiple marathons and finish with a number one rank among his peers in the AFROTC program.
It is awe-inspiring that Yim accomplished all of this and more, justly earning him admission to Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) after graduation, the premier combat pilot training program in the world. ENJJPT accepts only 40 applicants from a pool of more than 600 internationally.
“I originally became interested in the Air Force because of the airplane—I wanted to fly. However, the reason that I stay is because of the people,” said Yim. “I, like many of my peers, are excited and genuinely motivated by the idea of leading our nation's military members in the unified mission of national defense.”
Yim’s resolve to answer this call began at an early age, just after his parents’ divorce resulted in strained family finances.
“I still remember what it feels like to strategically place myself in the lunch line so my friends wouldn't find out that I was on the school's free lunch program,” Yim said. “I still remember getting ready to go to school one day when my mother told me she had used my $1,000 in college savings to pay rent that month because she didn't know what else to do.”
He decided to join AFROTC in college and work his hardest to create a better life for his future family.
“There have been many early morning workouts that I've come to still awake from the day before because I had pulled an all-nighter. This year, my fifth and last year at Ohio State, is the first year that I've ever bought student football tickets because normally I'd reserve Saturdays to do school work,” Yim said.
Yim was not satisfied to simply work hard for the benefit of his own future family. He wanted to help the children of fallen soldiers working to get themselves through college now, so he co-founded philanthropy 1 Day for the K.I.A. (1DK) with fellow AFROTC cadet Adam Ingram.
1DK hosts an annual 24-hour run to raise funds for the Living Legacy Scholarship, given to the child or sibling of a fallen or disabled service member to facilitate academic success at Ohio State. In just over a year, the organization has raised $19,000.
Looking to the future of the 1DK, Yim envisions the organization providing multiple full-ride scholarships and growing at other universities across the nation.
The decision to center 1DK fundraising around a run is no surprise considering Yim’s love for the physical activity. Since enrolling at Ohio State he has run three marathons and three ultramarathons in addition to the 1DK runs, in which he completed over 100 miles each. He attributes these accomplishments to inner strength.
“Through life experience we build mental and emotional strength. Things like divorce, death of parents, death of child, abortions, job loss, etc.” he said. “We learn how to deal with the pain. These same strategies are used during these super long endurance events. It is easy for no one. And, hence, this event most accurately tests one thing: mental strength.”
In spring 2014, Yim was honored with the highest rank possible for a cadet: Cadet Wing Commander. Only two students are chosen for this position each year to command the entire AFROTC cadet unit.
On the side, he’s completed training exercises with special operations units as well as Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) School. Yim worked part-time as an EMT with MedCare Ambulance and because of this experience, is interested in pursuing a career as a doctor after his pilot days are over.
Yim has more than earned his spot in ENJJPT, following in the honorable footsteps of two College of Engineering alumni previously accepted to the program, Kevin Hanigan (ECE, ’12) and Greg Hermack (CSE ’13).
More than anything, Yim wants his story to inspire his peers to work harder than they ever thought possible, to serve the greater good.
“I'm not particularly talented. In some things I feel slightly above average and in other things I feel even naturally untalented,” Yim said. “The one area that I do succeed in, and as a result have an advantage, is the ability to have a ridiculous and sickening sense of work ethic. The best thing is, this is something that any and ALL of our peers can have, use and do.”
Written by Karlie Frank