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Majors & Degrees

Starrett to reach stars through position with Space Force

October 18, 2023

When Connor Starrett filled out his top six dream positions with the Air Force, he reached for the stars and put down Space Force. He learned recently that he was accepted for this branch of the military and is excited to take on a cutting-edge role. This makes his commission as a Space Operations Officer an excellent fit.

The U.S. Space Force was established in December 2019 as the newest branch of the Armed Forces. Its mission is to organize, train, and equip space forces to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and provide space capabilities to the joint force.

“It’s a focused branch,” Starrett said. “Space is their job, and being a part of something new really drew me to it.”

He will join the Space Force after graduation in May 2024. The position will provide opportunities for Starrett to work in orbital warfare, space electronic warfare, missile warning systems, and, in the future, as a launch officer, who would help oversee the launch of commercial rockets into space, he explained.

“There’s an opportunity here as a young officer that I may be able to shape how we lead that branch,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing to get to be a part of building that culture.”

Starrett hopes to go into electronic warfare. “That way, I get the best of both worlds,” he said. “I get to utilize the experience and the knowledge that I have from my degrees here at DSU while simultaneously getting to work in a field still in its infancy.”

A computer science and cyber operations double major, he joined the regional Air Force ROTC through a partnership with South Dakota State University.

He serves as a cadet lieutenant colonel in the SDSU/DSU Air Force ROTC.

His childhood inspired his interest in serving. Starrett’s parents both spent six years in the Air Force. After leaving the service, his father decided to work for Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), so Starrett remained connected to the military.

“There was always a desire to serve from a really young age,” he said. “As I got older, I wanted to do whatever I could to help other people and be of service.”

Starrett’s DSU experience

Initially interested in attending DSU as a high school student, Connor Starrett ended up attending a college closer to home due to health issues in his family. However, after completing his first year, he realized he still really wanted to attend Dakota State for its unique programming.

“The biggest attraction for me is how we approach learning here by getting hands-on experience with industry-standard tools,” he explained. “The small class sizes and faculty engagements are also wonderful.”

Starrett’s transfer application was accepted, so “I packed everything I had into my Jeep and drove 1,500 miles across the country, and I haven’t looked back since,” Starrett said.

His experiences at DSU have only solidified the decision.

“I’ve talked to other friends attending different colleges,” he said. “The things that we do here are incredible, and they are leaps and bounds ahead of what some of them are doing in their respective programs.”

Students learn through experience from day one, Starrett added. In more advanced classes, there are a lot of opportunities to develop problem-solving skills by deciding how to approach coursework and assignments.

“Getting to mess with firewalls in the Information Assurance Lab and then learning malware analysis, it’s practically unheard of for undergrads, so the fact that we get to do that here is amazing.”

These experiences at DSU will help Starrett take on new challenges in his role as a Space Force Operations Officer upon graduation.

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