MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Growing up, it is no surprise to hear the questions, “What do you want to do when you get older?” or, “What do you plan on doing after graduation?”
These types of questions bear a significant amount of weight.
As an Airman, mother, and adventure-seeker, Capt. Kierstin Flores, an executive officer with the 6th Maintenance Group, believes individuals don’t have to know exactly what they want to do, just where to start.
“I’m almost 40 years old and I still don’t know what I want to do,” smiled Flores. “I think that’s good though; I love trying new things, it keeps me going, especially in keeping up with my two-year-old.”
Flores grew up in a family who was prior Air Force and knew she wanted to take the same route.
“I graduated high school two years early because I wanted to enlist,” Flores added. “I was 16 years old when my parents and I signed my paperwork.”
Once Flores began her Air Force career as a pharmacy technician, she took advantage of everything there was to offer and hit the ground running.
Flores’ first duty station sent her overseas where she volunteered as an emergency responder in her free time. Since then, she has also worked at the Pentagon, spent time in the U.S. Army, went back to the Air Force as a reservist, worked in the criminal justice field, became a fitness competitor and four years ago, commissioned to be an aircraft maintenance officer.
“This is why I love the Air Force,” said Flores. “As you can see through my career, it has offered me so many wonderful opportunities. I have had the opportunity to finish two degrees, I’ve travelled the world, I’ve had so many different jobs and now I’m a mother.
“If you just look at what’s around, there’s so much you can do within the military.”
Flores shared that the only disappointing experience she has had while in the Air Force was when she found out she was not selected for a commissioning position.
“When I applied for commission in 2014, I went up to a board with nine other people,” Flores reflected. “I wasn’t even selected, two others were. I was devastated because I was 34 years old at the time, which is the cutoff to commission. This was my last chance.”
According to Flores, she was not going to allow this to be a reflection of her work ethic.
“I was still going to work hard and see where my career took me,” smiled Flores. “Two months after I found out I wasn’t selected, it all paid off! I received a call from one of the commanders and ended up being offered a commissioning slot. This is why I encourage people to never give up, to just keep working and do a good job. People are going to notice and you’ll go far.”
For Flores, helping others and challenging herself in all aspects of life is what drives her to continue to push her limits every day.
“She is one of the hardest working officers I know,” said Lt. Col. Emily Farkas, deputy commander of the 6th Maintenance Group. “She always comes into her duty day with a positive attitude, a drive for excellence and gives 110 percent effort and even then, I know she isn't done working when she leaves MacDill.”
Flores has a passion and drive in everything that she does with no plans on slowing down.
“I always ask (myself or others), why not try everything?” Flores expressed. “If you show dedication, keep going and show initiative, you can do anything, especially in the Air Force!”