When Grace Tinkey graduated from FPD in 2013, she ventured to Adams State University in Colorado to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in photography and graphic design. She believed capturing moments on camera was her path and took an internship at the Air Force Academy as a photographer and graphic designer. Grace’s grandfather was a combat photographer, and the intriguing internship provided a way for her to connect with him while also enhancing her skill sets.

However, the internship soon turned into much more. It reignited a lifelong passion for aviation as well as an interest in serving her country.

“It was great to photograph these moments at the Air Force Academy,” remembers Grace, “but I wanted to be a part of them myself. I felt like this was the time to try if I was going to do it. I didn’t want it to be something I would regret.”

Beginning the Journey

Weeks after graduation from Adams State University, Grace headed to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to begin her training.

At the completion of basic training, Grace was named Top PT Female Airman in her squadron. She had the honor of running as the lead of her squadron along with the Top PT Male Airman at their graduation.

“That was such an unbelievable moment. The Top PT Male had also been in my flight. My flight was such a great group of people. We were always encouraging one another and pushing each other. It was nice to share that moment with him,” she said.

After more training at Lackland, Grace completed the first phase of her technical training to be an Air Force Loadmaster. Over the next few months she will complete additional phases at bases in Oklahoma and Washington before returning to the South and stationed in Charleston, South Carolina.

Strength Through Faith

Grace’s confirms that her journey thus far has been full of highs and lows, challenges and rewards. Throughout her training, Grace realized the importance of staying strong in her faith.

“I realized during the difficult days, how important it was to stay strong in my faith,” notes Grace. “It’s easy to stray, but having faith in His plan is one thing that really helped me through this. The FPD teachers really impressed that upon us [during school] and I am so grateful for them and my parents. My parents have been a huge support, and there are not enough good things I can say about them.”

In regards to her future and what lies next, Grace says she would love to commission one day, but is taking each opportunity as it comes. Right now she is just looking forward to flying and serving with her team. Her patience is evident, but so is her enthusiasm and determination for following God’s path for her life.