From Queen To Cadet

By: Katherine Cook
By: Katherine Cook

The United States Air Force Academy is home to 4,000 of the best and brightest students in the country and the world. This year there are 59 international cadets on the academy's grounds including the first ever from Belize-- 21-year-old Carrie Wong K. At first glance, Wong K is just another Cadet 4th Class required to run the strips and take chemistry 141, but behind Wong K's safety glasses is Royalty.
"My friends here are like, are you the queen of your country?" Said Wong K. "And I'm like, no, just a beauty pageant queen."
Specifically, Belize's 60th "Queen Of The Bay," honoring the Bayman Freedom Fighter's 1798 victory over Spain. In winning the crown, Wong K because her country's symbol of love and emblem of freedom.
"It (the pageant) is patriotic, and I thought, what better way to be patriotic than to serve your military."
So Wong K joined the Belize Defense Force and won her country's only scholarship to the United States Air Force Academy-- a world away from education in Belize.
"At my old school, our teacher made a text book for us, literally made it."
Even so, Wong K says most women in Belize can't even afford school. She says some sell their bodies to pay for tuition and many of them have gone missing. Enter the Carrie Wong K scholarship fund.
"That's one less person who could die, or get hurt, or one who could become our next prime minister!"
Spoken like a true queen who says one day, she'll return to Belize, but in the meantime...
"I'm gonna stick it out for that ring to say guess what, I graduated from one of the best schools in the world."
Last month Wong K returned to Belize to pass on her crown to the 61st Queen Of The Bay. After graduation, Wong K says she'll serve in her country's military for 4 years and possibly, make it a life-long career.

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