, Muskogee, OK

January 6, 2014

Serving her country

‘Patriotic’ grad attends Air Force Academy

By Cathy Spaulding
Times Staff Writer

— Schofield: ‘I’m doing something beneficial to other people.’

Since graduating from Fort Gibson High School in 2011, Elizabeth “Libby” Schofield has crawled through mud, cheered for her team — and served her country.

Schofield, 21, is in her third year at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where she takes courses in management and behavioral science. She said she hopes to eventually be a pilot or intelligence officer.

Schofield said she definitely feels more patriotic and proud.

“Coming to the academy and hearing about the previous graduates and just knowing you are part of the same organization they came from is very humbling and awesome,” Schofield said.

She said adjusting to military discipline has been a challenge at times.

“You have to wear a uniform every day,” she said. “A lot of your individuality is taken away.”

The freshman year was especially rigid. She said first-year cadets even had to eat a certain way.

“We have to march to lunch every day,” Schofield said.

Some days each week are dedicated to military training, including lessons about the honor code, she said.

Schofield said she also spent two years on the cheerleading team for the USAF Academy Falcons. The past semester she was on an intramural flag football team.

She must serve five years active duty after graduation.

“But in five years, I also get a master’s degree,” she said.

Schofield also has faced challenges of being among the academy’s female minority.

“Female cadets are 20 percent of today’s students,” she said. “Girls in the military have been sometimes looked at differently because they are female. We know what it is like to have to keep up.”

Yet, Schofield said the gender differences are “not always so challenging.”

“Some guys are way slower than the girls.”

Schofield said activities and academics at Fort Gibson helped prepare her for such rigor.

“I was well-rounded before I got here. That helped out a lot,” she said. “What helped was that I took a lot of Advanced Placement classes and a lot of sports.”

Schofield’s mother, Becky Schofield, said, “Libby was very active in high school.”

“She took honors classes, was president of the student body,” Becky Schofield said, adding that the daughter also played soccer and was a cheerleader.

A 2011 Muskogee Phoenix article listed Libby Schofield as having been selected All-State in soccer.

Schofield received a $500 scholarship in 2010 for being selected an Academic All-Star by the Muskogee Phoenix. Upon getting her scholarship, Libby said she wanted to be a doctor.

Becky Schofield, who is a fifth-grade teacher in Coweta, said her daughter “was always motivated.”

Becky Schofield said her husband had heard of a summer academy offered to high school students by the USAF Academy. The daughter attended the academy and found a new direction.

“When we picked her up, she said ‘This is where I want to be,’” Becky Schofield said.

After three years at the academy, Libby Schofield shows no regrets.

“I feel a lot more responsible now,” she said. “I have learned more about time management. And I feel I am doing something beneficial to other people.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogee