JACKSONVILLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Fla. --
When an e-mail notification appeared on Capt. Angelica Frink Walker’s phone, she couldn’t refrain from swiping up despite the possibility of disappointment.
“When I saw the first word say, ‘congratulations’ my heart dropped to my stomach,” she said. “I was at a leadership conference in a room with senior military leaders so the news could have affected my mood.”
In that moment, she discovered she’d just been accepted to the active-duty Air Force’s Judge Advocate General Corps, and the news soon spread to the crescendo of a standing ovation from the crowd.
Frink Walker, who currently serves as the 125th Fighter Wing Director of Equal Opportunity, will become one of only a handful of 125th Fighter Wing members to transition to the active-duty JAG Corps. The milestone comes just 10 years after she became the fastest enlisted Airman to complete her career development courses during her time as an enlisted member of the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron.
Frink Walker’s drive has always been met with a clear-sighted view of what she wanted to accomplish in the Florida Air National Guard. She first enlisted as a client systems technician and commissioned four years later as a personnel officer before making her way to the Equal Opportunity office. During this time, her civilian work in employee relations compelled her to consider a career in law, she said.
“I was always on the phone with our attorney, ensuring we as the employer were handling situations appropriately, while also keeping in mind the best interest of all parties involved,” she said. “I felt that with all the legal exposure I gained as a result of the cases I dealt with, law was a career path I should pursue for myself.”
During her matriculation at Florida A&M University College of Law, Frink Walker decided she wanted to practice as a uniformed member and applied to both the Army and Air Force’s active-duty JAG Corps.
The Air Force’s competitive, highly selective process involves submitting an application package, letter of recommendations and sitting for a four-hour board before the Staff Judge Advocate at an active-duty base. When the Air Force initially declined to offer her a position, she accepted an offer from the Army. However, ultimately she decided to reapply to the Air Force.
“I’m not one to give up easily,” she said. “I knew that it was going to be extremely competitive, but I wanted to learn from the best.”
Her approach to reassess, reach out to mentors and reapply, paid dividends in the end, she said.
“What better way to start my career,” she said. “I am very much looking forward to practicing in a meaningful way and getting the best experience to make the most impact.”
It’s nearly a full-circle moment for the veteran, who was first exposed to the military justice system early in her career after experiencing sexual assault.
“I was so impacted by my Special Victims’ Counsel, who was knowledgeable and supportive as the process unfolded,” she said. “I’d really like to be that support for an airman and be a part of helping the person to feel whole again.”
Moreover, as a Black and Hispanic female, she hopes to bring diversity of thought, experience and perspective to the JAG Corps. She also hopes to encourage others who may be interested in a legal career, or general advice, to take the right steps towards realizing their goals, she said.
“I’ve had several airmen ask about my path and how to commission,” she said. “If I can help anyone out there, I am happy to help. I am always open to helping others and sharing my story.”
Now, with the job search behind her, she’s preparing for her next high-stakes challenge – passing the bar – which she plans to sit for in February 2021.
Until then, reverting to the memory of the high fives and public acknowledgement at the Leadership Conference may help to offset some of the anxiety that comes with preparing for the exam.
“It’ll for sure be something I never forget,” she said.