Millennium High School senior Makaya Middleton has pledged to follow in her father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in the Air Force.

She will do so by attending The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, on a volleyball scholarship so she can study criminal justice. She would like to be a lawyer.

“It was a relatively easy decision,” said Makaya, who lives in Litchfield Park. “I already had my mind set on the military. I just love the style of it and the opportunity it provides for you.

“In terms of the scholarship, I didn’t want my dad to pay for it because he paid for a lot, with club volleyball and all the extra traveling. I figured I would do my dad a solid and get free college.”

Located in Charleston, South Carolina, The Citadel is one of six U.S. senior military colleges. It has 18 academic departments divided into five schools offering 29 majors and 38 minors. The military program consists of cadets pursuing bachelor’s degrees who live on campus, while civilian degrees are offered through eight undergraduate and 24 graduate programs.

All branches of the U.S. military are represented on The Citadel campus in ROTC detachments.

Middleton’s father, Timothy, said he is extremely proud of her. He served in the Air Force for four years, working as an electrician on F16s at Luke Air Force Base before his daughter was born.

“My experience with the Air Force is it was good for me,” said Timothy, who works in the biotech industry. “It forces you to grow up into an adult. That was exactly what I needed.

“As far as my daughter, I could not be more proud. She’s extremely driven and mentally tough. She knows where she’s going. It’s impressive because I wasn’t where she was at at her age.”

For two seasons, Makaya played on the Millennium girls volleyball team that was ranked fourth in the nation. The Tigers won the state championship in November against Sunnyslope. For her, the most important part of her high school athletic career was forging the positive relationship with her teammates.

“The experience of finally being on the varsity team and achieving the goals we set for ourselves senior year was gratifying, also,” she said.

“I think we found success because we’re all mentally focused and emotionally focused on one goal. The other girls knew exactly what each other was going through. It’s nice to know they’re going through the same thing.”

She is the only one from Millennium going to a military college, but that doesn’t intimidate her. Her father prepared her well, she said, and he inspired her to make the decision to attend The Citadel.

“I’m really excited, although it’s different,” she said. “I’m excited about what college holds for me. I’m excited about all it comes with even though it’s going to be extremely hard.”