From farmyards to fighter jets:

North Harford alumnus becomes aviation electrician in United States Navy


North Harford alumnus Caleb Smith, now an aviation electrician in the United States Navy standing next to plane as Plane Captain Photo credit: Caleb Smith

Malinah Jerscheid, Reporter

     North Harford alumni Caleb Smith was born and raised in Harford County, Maryland. Like most people in the area, he grew up surrounded by the close-knit feeling of community, knowing every day was the same routine. The farmers plowed their fields, kids hung out at the creamery evenings after sports games, and Friday nights were exclusively for stadium lights.

     Smith graduated from North Harford High in 2011, and a year later he enlisted in the military and is now an airman in the United States Navy working as an aviation electrician. He’s a true example of how life after high school is full of new opportunities that we never even dream of in our teenage years. 

     When Smith was in high school, he had a basic post-graduation outline that is identical to most North Harford graduates. Smith stated “My plan was absolutely not to join the Navy. My plan while in high school was that I was going to go to HCC, I was going to do my two years there, and then transfer to Towson and get my degree in computer science.” After later thought, his plans changed, realizing he could earn money while serving and get paid to go to college. 

     After some thought, he met with a United States Navy recruiter, “liked what they had to say” and in September of 2012, headed off to Great Lakes, Illinois for boot camp. When arriving at boot camp, Smith was welcomed by 180 other Navy recruits, all with differing personalities, ideas, and backgrounds. “It was definitely an interesting experience coming from Harford County, where everybody’s got the same thought processes, the same beliefs, and then you go to boot camp and it’s 180 strangers who completely do not share the same ideals, beliefs, or values that you do. Learning to deal and integrate with them was interesting.”

     Despite his deployments, Smith manages to come back home for about thirty days a year to Jarrettsville. Although there are small changes, such as the pharmacy no longer having a deli and the old BP becoming a Carroll Fuels, the town is the same as Smith remembers when he enlisted eight years ago. But still, when it is time to come back home “it’s still Jarrettsville, most of the people that I graduated high school with are still doing the same things they were doing when I left for boot camp eight years ago. That can be a good thing and a bad thing, I have friends that are still working at the Walmart in Fallston, saying for the past eight years they are trying to do something different but never followed through.” 

     So, what’s the secret? How do we break through the “normalcy” we are so accustomed to? How do we end up as one of those people everyone talks about who can come back and talk about the simple, sweet community that raised us to be something bigger? According to Smith, the big secret to branching out is simply “sucking it up and doing it”. The opportunities are there for us to explore, create, and become individuals molded by our homegrown roots that branch off to do great things in the world. It is our choice as people whether or not we expand on these opportunities.