News>Feature - Cadet candidate goes places with 'can-do' attitude
Cadet Candidate Tiheisha Bolles is a native of Hawaii and the daughter of a retired Navy petty officer first class. She said she wants to major in law if she receives an appointment to the Air Force Academy after graduating from the Academy Preparatory School in May. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum)
Cadet Candidate Tiheisha Bolles (middle row, second from right) was director of operations for the Airman-led ELITE group at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., while stationed there in January 2011. Bolles, a native of Hawaii, was selected to attend the Air Force Academy Preparatory School's Class of 2012. ELITE stands for "Empowerment, Loyalty, Inspiration, Teamwork, Equality" and aims to provide mentors and role models for Oklahoma City-area youth. (U.S. Air Force photo/Margo Wright)
2/8/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A young woman at the Preparatory School here has persevered through the power of positive thinking and looks to do more of the same as a future Air Force officer.
Cadet Candidate Tiheisha Bolles entered the Prep School through the Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development program after joining the Air Force in September 2009.
Bolles, a "military brat," is used to adapting and overcoming. Her father, Melvin Parker, recently retired from the Navy as a petty officer first class.
"He wanted me to go in the Air Force," Bolles said. "He told me, 'The Navy's been good to us, and I'm grateful for the Navy, but the Air Force would be best for you.'" Military benefits she had grown up with, like commissaries and base exchanges, were also a factor, she added.
As part of a military family, Bolles spent much of her life in Hawaii, graduating from high school there before she attended community college at Olympic College in Bremerton, Wash.
Her military career took her to San Antonio for Basic Military Training, then to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., for air traffic controller training, and Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., for her first duty assignment. While at Tinker AFB, she created a diversity alliance club and co-founded ELITE, which stands for Empowerment, Loyalty, Inspiration, Teamwork and Equality.
"We are doing this because people today don't have many role models to look up to, and we want to be those role models," said the group's principal founder and president, Senior Airman Kristopher Gooden, in a January 2011 article on Tinker's website. The group's mission is for its members to serve as mentors and role models for youth and students "while working together with strong heart, motivation and determination to give back to the community by helping others."
Tinker was where Bolles first heard about the Air Force Academy and the Prep School. Her chief controller handed her a pamphlet about the program, and soon thereafter, she attended a local LEAD briefing.
"It sounded really interesting, like something I wanted to shoot for," she said. And so she did. With her commander's endorsement, she applied and gained entry into the Prep School's cadre of about 250.
It took Bolles some time to get used to the Prep School environment, which is much more like BMT and technical school than an active-duty assignment.
"It's harder to adjust to going to school and studying," she said. "There's not as much freedom. But once you get past that ... it's all about attitude. The wrong attitude makes things that much harder than they really are."
A positive attitude, on the other hand, makes it easier to overcome momentary hardships, Bolles said.
"It's along the lines of resiliency," she said. "You may not get the grades you want. Your room may not be where you need it to be. But you need to be able to persevere. Everyone's going to have bumps in the road; it's just how you overcome those. Keep your main goal at the forefront of your mind so you have something to keep you going when times do get rough."
Bolles' can-do spirit has carried over into her leadership at the Prep School, said 2nd Lt. Thomas Buenger, the Squadron 3 commander and a 2007 Prep School graduate.
"We were absolutely impressed with Bolles from the start," Buenger said. "She's a natural leader within our squadron and a person everyone in the squadron trusts to go to for any situation. She's a mature, caring and inspirational leader in every aspect thus far, and we're incredibly excited to see how she performs at the Academy next year."
Bolles said she wants to pursue a degree in law. She attended the Academy's Majors Night on Tuesday.
"Things always change, but I can see that happening for myself," she said. "Legal studies is something I've always had a passion for. If I feel there's an injustice or people are being treated unfairly, I want to do something about it."