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145th SFS High-performing airman earns Distinguished Graduate Award

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell Brush, senior enlisted advisor to the Chief, National Guard Bureau, recognizes Senior Airman Kristine Koch as a distinguished graduate for Airman Leadership School, 15-3. Feb. 12, 2015, at the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center, I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Paul Mann/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell Brush, senior enlisted advisor to the Chief, National Guard Bureau, recognizes Senior Airman Kristine Koch as a distinguished graduate for Airman Leadership School, 15-3. Feb. 12, 2015, at the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center, I.G. Brown Training and Education Center. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Paul Mann/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kristine Koch, 145th Security Forces Squadron, safely utilizes a clearing barrel before issuing an M4 rifle during unit training at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Mar 21, 2015. Koch, who completed her first Professional Military Education milestone, Feb 12, 2015, as a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School has been with 145th SFS since Oct 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kristine Koch, 145th Security Forces Squadron, safely utilizes a clearing barrel before issuing an M4 rifle during unit training at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Mar 21, 2015. Koch, who completed her first Professional Military Education milestone, Feb 12, 2015, as a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School has been with 145th SFS since Oct 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

Newly promoted U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kristine Koch, 145th Security Forces Squadron, starts an armored Humvee for patrol during a training exercise held in the Uwharrie National Forest, Troy, N.C., April 2, 2015. Koch, who completed her first Professional Military Education milestone, Feb 12, 2015, as a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School has been with 145th SFS since Oct 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

Newly promoted U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kristine Koch, 145th Security Forces Squadron, starts an armored Humvee for patrol during a training exercise held in the Uwharrie National Forest, Troy, N.C., April 2, 2015. Koch, who completed her first Professional Military Education milestone, Feb 12, 2015, as a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School has been with 145th SFS since Oct 2012. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran, 145th Public Affairs/Released)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It is quite an accomplishment to graduate from any military training program, but earning the Distinguished Graduate Award is an achievement that only 10 percent of airmen attain. Newly promoted Staff Sgt. Kristine Koch, a member of the North Carolina Air National Guard, is now part of that percentage as a distinguished graduate of Airman Leadership School.

Koch, along with at least 270 graduates of Non-commissioned Officer Academy and Airman Leadership School completed their studies February 2015 at the Paul H. Lankford Enlisted PME Center, I.G. Brown Training and Education Center, in Knoxville, Tenn.

After five weeks of training, a graduation and awards ceremony was held in their honor. Koch was presented with the Distinguished Graduate Award in front of her peers, which is an award based on objective and performance evaluations, demonstrated leadership and performance as a team player.

"I really enjoyed the school and am glad that I had the opportunity to attend," Koch said. "I was able to learn a lot and I am actually able to apply what I learned to my everyday life."

In Airman Leadership School, one of the many things students learn is how to manage their time.

"We would get done with class at about 1500," said Koch. "Then we would have PT (physical training)."

"After PT we pretty much stayed in our rooms and read the required material for the following day and also worked on whatever assignments were due," Koch added.

"Whether it's rehearsing for an upcoming speech or trying to figure out how to properly complete 1206 bullets or an Air Force Form 931, there never seemed to be enough time in the day, but we were able to come together and help each other out in order to succeed," said Koch.

Koch joined the Air Force Reserves in Niagara Falls, N.Y. December 2009 and then transferred to the N.C. Air National Guard in October 2012 where she became a member of the 145th Security Forces Squadron.

"Being a member of the Security Forces unit is like being part of a big family," said Koch. "We all look out for each other and push each other to become better. I attribute part of my success at ALS with the mentorship I received from my guard family."

"The best advice I can give to other airmen," Koch said, "is to give 100 percent, study, work hard, don't stress, stay focused and be a good wingman."