The right stuff

Name: Michael Massel
Major: Professional Flight Technology
Year: Senior
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

Why Purdue? A longtime Purdue fan, Michael chose Purdue on the reputation of its flight school and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corp (NROTC) program. Several members of his family have served in the military, and Michael decided to follow in their footsteps. After graduation, he plans to attend flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola to realize his dream of becoming a naval aviator.

All in a day’s work: In addition to carrying 18 to 21 credit hours, Michael serves as his company’s chief petty officer in NROTC, serving as the liaison between the commanding officer and the 40 members of his company. “To be a good leader, you need to know and care about the people in your company — you have to know what’s going on with them and the things they might be struggling with.”

Be prepared: An Eagle Scout, Michael credits his work ethic and leadership abilities to Scouting. “The Boy Scouts taught me dedication, perseverance and problem-solving. You have to be willing to be the first one there and the last one to leave — hard work is a habit you need to get into to be successful.”

Lessons at sea: This summer, Michael shadowed a naval officer on board a Brazilian ship as part of the Foreign Exchange Cruise program. He was one of a few midshipmen selected nationwide to participate. Fluent in Spanish and learning Portuguese, Michael was the only American on board. “Top of mind is that you are representing the United States at all times — you are the U.S. Navy to these sailors.”

Biggest disappointment: Fascinated with flying from an early age, he was shocked to learn at age 4 that he couldn't fly with an umbrella like Mary Poppins. “I had just seen the movie and was convinced I could do it!”

By Tammy Weaver-Stoike