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Kaelin Yi went from Alabama to Appalachia to follow his military dreams at MSU

Like a lot of young men, Kaelin Yi was a boy who looked up to his father. Between watching him serve in the military and spending half of his life on the Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Florida, Yi knew from a young age he wanted to serve his country.  

“I idolized heroes growing up, and seeing others put their lives on the line for strangers was something I loved and aspired to do,” he said.  

A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Yi went on to graduate from Marion Military Institute, a junior military college in Marion, Alabama. From there, he received offers to attend well-known institutions like Syracuse University and the two most prominent colleges in his home state: The University of Alabama and Auburn University. Instead of sticking close to home or venturing to the Empire State for a much larger institution, Yi felt the best place for him to fulfill his military ambitions and career goals was to attend Morehead State University.  

“I came here because it was smaller so I could focus on my academics and I was offered a slot to command a platoon in the Army,” Yi said, who currently holds the military rank of Second Lieutenant. “Unlike big schools, you can be one-on-one with the teacher to get the help you need to get the grade you desire in your class.”  

Yi is a junior majoring in health promotion and university studies at MSU. He said since coming to MSU, the smaller campus setting has allowed him to interact with more students in places he frequents, whether it’s visiting the Camden-Carroll Library to stay on top of his studies or staying active at the Recreation and Wellness Center. The friendliness of the campus environment is what partly led him to participate in fraternity and sorority life as a member of Theta Chi Fraternity.  

“One thing I never considered was rushing a fraternity. I ended up rushing Theta Chi, which was something I or my peers never thought I would do,” Yi said. “I learned a lot about the history behind the fraternity and others as well. So now, I have a much better appreciation for Greek life.”  

Yi said upon graduation, he plans to travel to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and complete his Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) to gain the knowledge to become a field artillery officer. From there, he said he is hoping for active duty but would also like to serve in the civilian sector as a firefighter.  

To learn more about MSU ROTC, visit, email or call 606-783-2050. 

MSU supports veteran students, active military or military-connected students, visit to learn more or call 606-783-9416.