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Commentaries

Celebrating Black History Month: Cadet is inspired by family, faith

  • Published
  • By Cadet 2nd Class Elijah Beauplan
  • U.S. Air Force Acade,y

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Black History Month gives us an opportunity to look at all of history as it is being made. Being Haitian-American allows me to have a deeper appreciation of my ancestry of being from the first free Black nation.

I am a first-generation American and junior cadet at the Air Force Academy. My parents were born and raised in Haiti and grew up as poor farmers, planting beans, potatoes, corn and sugar cane. My family’s core belief is Christianity. Essentially, they had faith and a dream. My mom immigrated to the U.S. when she was 10-years-old and my dad when he was 20. Due to its proximity, Florida was the home of choice for countless Haitians immigrants. My parents had family settled in Naples, Florida; my mom graduated high school and my dad worked many jobs to make ends meet. My parents met at the church they still attend to this day, eventually married and had children.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Community School of Naples, a private high school, where I was a basketball athlete. As I looked for colleges to attend, my high school athletic director, retired Col. Bart Weiss, a 1986 Air Force Academy graduate, called me into his office and encouraged me to apply to the Academy. This drew my interest and I applied to the Academy during my senior year in high school.

I attended the Academy’s Prep school, received an appointment to the Academy and today I’m a junior cadet about to order my class ring for the Ring Dance in May. My parents and grandparents did all the hard work for me; I just have to execute and take advantage of all the opportunities the Air Force has placed in front of me. I like to believe I have so far.

I would like to take care of my family from my grandparents down to my children's children. I want to build on the success of my parents by being the first member of my family to serve in the U.S. military and graduate from the Academy.

While I serve, I want to mentor high school students and cadets and let them know that this hectic journey is worth all the struggle and strife.

The fall semester of my junior year was the hardest semester during my time as a cadet. During the week of In-processing for the class of 2024, I received news from that my cousin died in a house fire. We were close and had traveled to Haiti together during the summers. I was traumatized; I could not imagine something like this could ever happen, and I was upset because I could not attend the funeral. I wanted to be there for my family.

On the first day of the fall semester, I learned of another cousin’s death in Haiti. Once again, I was unable to support my family the way I wanted to. Chaplains and academic advisors helped me get through the semester. I know my cousins are in better hands and in a better place.

Returning to Naples for winter break allowed me to gather with family. I returned to the Academy centered and ready to face whatever challenges the spring semester has in store.

My parents are my first heroes because they overcame the challenges of their past to build a better future. They grew up with no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing but we can’t function without Wi-Fi today. Because of their history, my parents constantly push my siblings and me toward success. Failure is not even in the conversation and my household is very competitive. At 45, my mother achieved her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. At 50, my dad returned to school to become a nurse with my mother's help. He will use his new skills to go back to his Haiti and improve it for the better. Even with all their accomplishments, my parents want to give back and pay it forward. After graduating, I hope to be a part of the catalyst for a more prosperous future for the people and country to Haiti.

 

Commentaries - Articles

Celebrating Black History Month: Cadet is inspired by family, faith

  • Published
  • By Cadet 2nd Class Elijah Beauplan
  • U.S. Air Force Acade,y

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Black History Month gives us an opportunity to look at all of history as it is being made. Being Haitian-American allows me to have a deeper appreciation of my ancestry of being from the first free Black nation.

I am a first-generation American and junior cadet at the Air Force Academy. My parents were born and raised in Haiti and grew up as poor farmers, planting beans, potatoes, corn and sugar cane. My family’s core belief is Christianity. Essentially, they had faith and a dream. My mom immigrated to the U.S. when she was 10-years-old and my dad when he was 20. Due to its proximity, Florida was the home of choice for countless Haitians immigrants. My parents had family settled in Naples, Florida; my mom graduated high school and my dad worked many jobs to make ends meet. My parents met at the church they still attend to this day, eventually married and had children.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Community School of Naples, a private high school, where I was a basketball athlete. As I looked for colleges to attend, my high school athletic director, retired Col. Bart Weiss, a 1986 Air Force Academy graduate, called me into his office and encouraged me to apply to the Academy. This drew my interest and I applied to the Academy during my senior year in high school.

I attended the Academy’s Prep school, received an appointment to the Academy and today I’m a junior cadet about to order my class ring for the Ring Dance in May. My parents and grandparents did all the hard work for me; I just have to execute and take advantage of all the opportunities the Air Force has placed in front of me. I like to believe I have so far.

I would like to take care of my family from my grandparents down to my children's children. I want to build on the success of my parents by being the first member of my family to serve in the U.S. military and graduate from the Academy.

While I serve, I want to mentor high school students and cadets and let them know that this hectic journey is worth all the struggle and strife.

The fall semester of my junior year was the hardest semester during my time as a cadet. During the week of In-processing for the class of 2024, I received news from that my cousin died in a house fire. We were close and had traveled to Haiti together during the summers. I was traumatized; I could not imagine something like this could ever happen, and I was upset because I could not attend the funeral. I wanted to be there for my family.

On the first day of the fall semester, I learned of another cousin’s death in Haiti. Once again, I was unable to support my family the way I wanted to. Chaplains and academic advisors helped me get through the semester. I know my cousins are in better hands and in a better place.

Returning to Naples for winter break allowed me to gather with family. I returned to the Academy centered and ready to face whatever challenges the spring semester has in store.

My parents are my first heroes because they overcame the challenges of their past to build a better future. They grew up with no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing but we can’t function without Wi-Fi today. Because of their history, my parents constantly push my siblings and me toward success. Failure is not even in the conversation and my household is very competitive. At 45, my mother achieved her goal of becoming a nurse practitioner. At 50, my dad returned to school to become a nurse with my mother's help. He will use his new skills to go back to his Haiti and improve it for the better. Even with all their accomplishments, my parents want to give back and pay it forward. After graduating, I hope to be a part of the catalyst for a more prosperous future for the people and country to Haiti.