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WIU alumna Kelsi Carney
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Meteorology Alumna Featured in Air Force Recruitment Video

November 3, 2020

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MACOMB, IL – A Western Illinois University alumna, working as an Air Force air traffic controller, has been featured in a military recruiting video.

Kelsi Carney, a 2016 graduate of WIU's meteorology program, enlisted in the Air Force during her last year at WIU. She went to basic training in San Antonio, TX, technical training in Mississippi and now has been stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma for the last four years as a staff sergeant/E-5.

Carney said WIU prepared her for her career by giving her background knowledge in weather, which is a big part of air traffic control work.

"I'm able to teach my trainees and peers deeper knowledge into weather processes and things to look for to know what our weather may become (for example, if our temperature and dew point are equal or nearly equal, you can likely expect some sort of precipitation to occur)," she said. "Beyond my degree, being able to live on my own at WIU prepared me greatly for life outside college, understanding how to budget for bills and how to be an independent adult essentially."

Carney came to WIU from Cedar Rapids, IA, because the school offers a meteorology degree.

"I found WIU and it was the first and only campus I toured because I immediately knew it was the school I wanted," she said. "I loved the small campus; you're able to walk to any class within a reasonable amount of time. I also loved the huge gym and I liked that it wasn't in a crowded city."

While in Macomb, Carney worked at Sports Corner @124 and said she enjoyed being part of Haunted Housing in Thompson Hall her last year at Western.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought "stark differences" to her workplace. She said the on-duty crew size dropped to help prevent cross contamination and work weeks alternate to allow for a sort of quarantine. The change minimized base flying missions. The workplace is back to full crews at the current time.

Carney said her goal is to be a chief master sergeant/E-9 by the time she retires. She said reaching her goal would pull her a bit out of her career field for broader leadership.

"I'd like to become a command chief, allowing me to be the chief of an entire base," she said. "Shooting even further, I'd love to be the chief master sergeant of the Air Force one day, meaning I'd be the highest enlisted member in the force. I'd work out of the Pentagon and visit bases all around the globe to discuss the changes airmen would like to see under my command."

For more information on WIU's meteorology program, visit

Posted By: Jodi Pospeschil (
Office of University Communications & Marketing