Mary Dice joined the Civil Air Patrol three years ago with high hopes.
"At that point I had a real interest in aviation and flying," the 17-year-old Rockwood school district senior said. "My first experience flying was . . . unique. As most first-timers do, I ended up not having the best experience.
"The first time was a bit nerve-wracking."
Dice said she has been in the air twice since that first take-off, adding that both flights were much more enjoyable. And although aviation may not be part of her career plans any more, she has no regrets about the Civil Air Patrol.
"(It) opened up my eyes to the military as an option for potential careers," she said.
According to Dice, her interest in the Civil Air Patrol was piqued when her father brought home a flier advertising the organization several years ago. She has since became a cadet commander for this U.S. Air Force auxiliary group.
"I do a lot of leadership through the Civil Air Patrol," she said.
"It's a pretty big leadership role. We have weekly meetings as well as different events."
Dice said she's proud of the things she has learned as member of the organization. At the group's upcoming winter weekend she will practice a number of useful skills including: First Aid, CPR, hypothermia treatment and search-and-rescue.
With high school graduation in her immediate future, Dice is planning to attend the Defense Language Institute in California as a member of the National Guard. She said she wants to learn Arabic.