Rising to the Challenge


Criminal justice graduate earns Air Force leadership recognition

KENNESAW, Ga. (May 21, 2019) — When Wyatt Redish walked across the stage at the Kennesaw State Convocation Center to receive his degree, it was his second life-changing achievement that week. A few days prior, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, and received the distinction of Distinguished Graduate of the 2019 Air Force ROTC Cadet Class, an honor that placed him among the top 10 percent of all USAF officers commissioned into service this year.

This was not the first honor bestowed on the young cadet. He also recently was awarded the Callahan Leadership Award, an honor recognizing a USAF cadet for exceptional leadership before commissioning. During training, he was named Wing Commander of Detachment 165, a region-spanning the unit of cadets from 12 universities, including Georgia State University and Emory University.

“The Wing Commander is directly responsible for the training and development of roughly 120 cadets and airmen,” explained Redish. “Being selected was a great honor.”

Wyatt Redish

The 22-year-old criminal justice graduate from Marietta spent the last four years juggling a full-time course load with his Air Force ROTC training and leadership role, a commitment that limited the days he could take classes while completing demanding military training.

When he was an 18-year-old freshman cadet in the first few weeks of the program, he revered officer commissioning as a nearly unobtainable goal. The program is famously challenging, an analog to traditional boot-camp-style training while also providing candidates with leadership education effective enough to serve as leaders in America’s armed forces. Redish is among the 24 percent of cadets in his freshman group that completed the full program.

“Commissioning is the goal of every AFROTC Cadet,” said Redish. “Becoming an officer was a lifetime goal for me, and the few weeks prior to commissioning were the fastest and most agonizing of my lifetime.”

Following his career in the U.S. Air Force, Redish plans on attending law school. He says that KSU’s criminal justice program provided him with the ideal foundation for both his military career and future law studies, preparing him to begin thinking innovatively about the law and our law enforcement system. He credits an American government class early in his KSU career, taught by political science professor Bruce Flower, as solidifying his interest in studying law and criminal justice; but a spirit of public service and a desire to protect his nation has always been present within Redish.

“Since I can remember, I have always wanted to serve my country,” he explained. “There is a calling in some to serve the nation that provides the freedoms they enjoy. There is also a calling to protect those freedoms.”

Air Force ROTC program leaders recognized Redish’s dedication and potential from the start of the program.

“Lieutenant Redish stood out among his peers from day 1 and has embodied the Air Force’s core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do,” said Captain Michael J. Clark, education officer for Detachment 165. “He continues the excellent legacy of Detachment 165 and will provide unparalleled leadership as a newly appointed officer in the United States Air Force.”

Now as a commissioned officer, Redish will next attend military intelligence training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. As he looks forward to his next challenge, he is mindful of and thankful for the support that brought him to where he is today.

“One of the many significant lessons I've learned as a part of my journey through KSU and AFROTC was just how much of a factor the support of my friends and family have been to my success, said Redish. “I could not have gotten through the rigors of KSU and AFROTC without their support.”

– Thomas Dale

Photos by Rob C. Witzel


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu