Celebrate Freedom Foundation Summer
Intern, Future U.S. Air Force Pilot, Knows the
By Stuart Morgan
West Columbia, S.C. — The 21-year-old cadet commander of the University of Notre Dame’s AFROTC Wing, working as a summer intern for the Celebrate Freedom Foundation (CFF), knows how critically important science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects are to ensuring the strength of the United States.
Connor Halloran, a senior on a Tier One Air Force ROTC Scholarship at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., majoring in aeronautical engineering, is scheduled to attend flight training after graduating and receiving his commission in May as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
“Coming from an engineering program at a four-year university, one always hears about the great advancements we are making in all the STEM fields, especially in the United States,” Halloran said. “With institutions such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the powerful STEM private sector, the U.S. has always been on the forefront of STEM innovation. But while this may be true — without the support of staff to effectively utilize these advancements — American ingenuity will continue to benefit other, more STEM-literate countries around the globe at the expense of the United States.”
CFF’s mission is to “educate children, promote lasting patriotism and honor the military — past, present and future,” and Halloran said he is convinced that an emphasis on the Foundation’s three-part mission is the only way that the U.S. can secure its place in the 21st century.
“A few huge strengths of the U.S. have always been its fervent patriotism, emphasis on creating a better life for the next generation, and steadfast support of its troops,” he explained. “These are also strengths that are threatened in these difficult days and are the strengths that we cannot afford to lose. Through the efforts of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation and other organizations like it, these strengths must be secured.”
CFF’s Project SOaR™ (Student/School Opportunities and Rewards) is an educational outreach program that focuses on STEM subjects.
“It’s an important program,” Halloran said. “Living in a modern society demands some sort of knowledge of STEM subjects, and that this requirement will only become more strenuous as technology evolves. If the United States is going to advance technologically, a STEM-literate population is also critical to invent, implement, maintain and manage these innovations.”
“If the United States is going to advance
technologically, a STEM-literate population is also
critical to invent, implement, maintain and manage these
“If the United States is going to advance technologically, a STEM-literate population is also critical to invent, implement, maintain and manage these innovations.”
— Connor Halloran, Rising Senior at the University of Notre Dame and CFF Summer Intern
Halloran was inspired at an early age to pursue a career as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force by his father, Col. Pat Halloran, USAF (Ret.), Senior Aerospace Science Instructor at Lexington High School.
“I have always looked up to my dad,” Halloran said. “My father has always been a huge source of inspiration and influence. From a very young age, I have always been proud of what he does and his level of dedication. He is such an amazing leader and motivator.
“It was in the second grade that I began to understand the mission of the U.S. Air Force and realized what I really wanted to do for a career,” he added. “We were transferred to Stuttgart, Germany, which required us to fly over to Europe. While I was terrified on that flight to my father’s new duty station, I couldn’t help being absolutely in awe that something so big could fly! That sense of amazement that I have had for aviation began then, and has followed me throughout the years.”
Pursuing a career in the U.S. Air Force or any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces is challenging, and being able to complete one is not guaranteed.
“At this point, I really would like to pursue a career in the Air Force,” Halloran said. “Serving as a pilot carries a ten-year commitment, and I’d like to make it a career and serve more than 20 years. However, it is important to remember that you serve at the needs of the Air Force. With the current drawdown and reduction in forces, it is entirely possible that this opportunity will not be open to me.
“This is why I’m so grateful to be able to study engineering,” he added. “This puts me in a great position even after I complete my service in the Air Force. Halloran is the most recent college student to volunteer to work as an intern for the CFF. Like previous college interns, he has benefitted from the experience.
Halloran, who has been working for the CFF since early June, plans to complete his internship and return to Notre Dame early in August. He usually spends three days per week helping the CFF with office work, and the one day per week working on the Foundation’s Cobra helicopters, including Maggie, at the CFF’s hangar at Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
“Working as a summer intern for the Celebrate Freedom Foundation is a fantastic opportunity to learn from those who have been truly successful in the military,” Halloran said. “As an intern, I’ve learned how they handle situations, how they treat others and what their day to day schedules are. These little things create a big picture of what it takes to be successful in the military.
“One of the clearest examples of this is CFF’s commitment to service,” he added. “While so many of the Foundation’s members have served in the military, their commitment to the betterment of our nation did not end when they took off their uniforms. In addition, the staff of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation is the most genuine group of individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with. They truly care about their mission, they love their work, and they’re truly dedicated to the Foundation’s ideals.”