By Brance D. Arnold
As a child, Tyler Doty dreamed of becoming a pilot in the military like his grandfather. Little did he know his dream would lead him to Texas A&M-San Antonio.
Doty, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business, is the first graduate as part of A&M-SA’s Air Force Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) program. In January 2020, A&M-SA signed a Standard Crosstown Agreement with The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to offer the AFROTC General Military Course and/or Professional Officer Course for qualified students who desire to earn appointments as commissioned officers in the U.S. Air Force.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Doty moved to Poteet, Texas to be with his grandparents his senior year of high school. After attending community college, he set his sites on pursing his degree concentration at a university, enrolling in A&M-SA in the fall of 2020.
“When I had finished with community college and it was time to get into my upper- level classes, I learned of the Crosstown program at A&M-SA and was interested, especially since A&M-SA is close to where I live,” said Doty.
Doty, who also holds certifications in cyber security and investing, took all of his academic classes at A&M-SA, but attended military-specific courses at UTSA twice a week. As an underclassman, students attend Aerospace Studies, where they learn about the history of the Air Force, customs and courtesies, how to properly wear the uniform, and case studies. As students progress through the program, Doty said it evolves into more of what military life looks like from an inside view.
“It’s not so much about becoming a soldier and going to war. It’s a lot more than that,” Doty said. “We have leadership labs, where we put what we have learned into practice and perform scenarios where we need to use critical thinking skills. We focus on officer development.”
Upon graduating from A&M-SA, Doty will commission as a second lieutenant and begin his first assignment and training at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio. He hopes to eventually become a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) pilot.
“The aircrafts have a 69-ft. wingspan,” explained Doty. “They can fly from here in the States to different parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and across the globe. Some of the drones have different capabilities called Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, and that way we do not have to put an actual person’s life at risk.”
Though Texas A&M-San Antonio offers Army ROTC (also a cross-enrollment agreement with UTSA), Tila K. Jernigan, director of Military Affairs at A&M-San Antonio, said Doty’s graduation as part of the new Air Force program holds great importance for future cadets.
“This event is significant to the Jaguar students because it opens a window of opportunity for a rewarding career as an officer in the United States Air Force,” said Jernigan. “Long term, my hope is that the UTSA detachment continues to be successful in recruits at A&M-San Antonio and we can establish our own program.”
Doty shared that what he loved most about AFROTC is the camaraderie and family bond he and his friends formed in the program. He also cites opportunities he would not have otherwise had if he were not a part of the program.
“I received a $3,500 scholarship to log some flight hours at a local flight school,” he said. “There are tons of scholarship opportunities. I received one through ROTC where my education is completely paid for by the military.”
Not only is Doty graduating and commissioning this May, but he is also getting married to his fiancé. In fact, one of his AFROTC classmates will serve as his best man at his wedding.
Doty is required to serve six years in the military and currently hopes to pursue a long-term career in the Air Force, though he may eventually put his business skills to use in the civilian world. However, for now, his sites are set on following in the footsteps of his biggest mentor, his grandfather, as an Air Force pilot.