Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hello, my name is Emily. I’m an Air Force pilot, wife, mom and travel lover.
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
I didn’t. I went to the US Air Force Academy following high school, which is a 4-year tuition paid service academy in Colorado Springs, CO. I knew that I wanted to serve my country following graduation, but wasn’t sure how. When given the chance to choose my career, I initially didn’t choose pilot and immediately regretted that decision. I’m convinced fate intervened. My entire class had to resubmit their job choices about 2 months later, I put pilot and never looked back.
Were you scared to start the process?
Yes, for so many reasons. I was scared to fail, scared I wouldn’t stack up next to the boys, scared I wasn’t good enough, scared I wouldn’t be the best.
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I hate doughnuts and cinnamon rolls.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My track coach and mentor once told me that my mind would quit far before my body ever did. Whether I’m in the middle of a tough workout, a challenging approach while flying or a hard parenting moment, I remember that, embrace it and force myself to keep going with a clear mind and determined attitude.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
Don’t ever doubt yourself, your confidence or your ability to overcome any obstacle. And for goodness sake, don’t waste your time or emotions on people who don’t appreciate all that you have to offer.
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Yes. Initially it stung and then it created a drive within me so strong, I’m convinced it got me to where I am today.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
You are already enough. You are smart and intelligent and good. And what you do with that is up to you and only you. You are the master of your fate. Own it.
Have you always had confidence in yourself?
No. I honestly think I was more confident as a teenager than I am now. Maybe that’s because with increased responsibility I have more balls in the air, more people depending on me, higher stakes to deal with. But I’m working on it. I am forever a work in progress.
What do you love most about yourself?
My strong body that has supported me through all my sports, at times physically demanding career and the birth of my son.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
I struggled to juggle my school work and full-time schedule as a student-athlete in college. At the end of one semester I was supposed to take my finals early before our conference meet in New Mexico. I got a call the night before that my grandmother had passed away so I ended up missing the early tests and the conference meet. I came back and failed 2 of my tests, which meant I failed 2 classes in the same semester. That was the lowest point of my academic career and I felt like an utter failure. But I took the summer classes, put in the work and managed to not only graduate but raise my GPA.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The sun will rise tomorrow and you must rise with it. Bad things happen, we make mistakes, we get embarrassed and we grow from it and move on. That’s what we, as humans, must do to stay sane in such a demanding and ever-changing world.
What motivates you most?
Not the best answer, but fear of failure. I hate losing. I loathe failing. I will avoid it at all costs. This probably comes from being the youngest sibling and having 2 older brothers as well.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
With my son. He keeps me grounded. He helps me keep things in perspective. He’s my most precious gift and most amazing accomplishment in life.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I try to read something that educates me every day. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, but I want to forever be a student. To always strive to learn more and educate myself.
Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
I have a couple. Both are female pilots and leaders. They give me perspective. Challenge me to be the best version of myself and to stay humble.
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I’m ambidextrous. I write with my left hand but do pretty much everything else with my right hand.
Who is your biggest role model? Why?
She doesn’t know it, but my friend Kimber. She just got out of the Air Force to go to law school this year. She and her husband fostered 2 kids for the last few years and adopted them this year, and she gave birth. She stays fit, she consistently blogs…. she’s a machine. The most humble and nice machine you could possibly meet. She just impresses me so much with her drive and internal motivation to be the best version of herself. It’s very humbling.
Where do you find inspiration?
In the sound of the waves hitting the shore by our home in Hawaii. In the squeaks and squeals of my son, Dallas, running through the house after bath time. In the way my husband looks at me after we’ve both had horrifically long days. My life is crazy and hectic but it’s beautiful and I’m so beyond blessed. And that gives me motivation and inspires me every single day.
What are your biggest passions?
I want every woman to know their worth. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home and in an environment that supported me no matter what. I know not everyone is that lucky, but I feel like I can use my growing platform to inspire women. To show them, no matter where you come from or what your dreams are, you can accomplish them. I wade through hundreds of messages from men everyday sending me kissy faces to find the few women asking how they can fly. Asking how they can be leaders and how I got where I am. If I can help just one of them reach their full potential, that’s enough for me.
Emily Barkemeyer is an active duty Air Force pilot, momma and travel enthusiast. When she’s not flying for a living, she’s hopping on a plane to see and experience the world. She loves to travel, explore and live the biggest and most fulfilling life she possibly can.