Sean Hopper, a senior online Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Learning major, is also an active-duty U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Operator, Pararescueman, stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
Hopper’s nine-year Air Force career reads like an action-adventure movie.
He has deployed twice in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and once in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel and Operation Resolute Support. He also has multiple deployments in the Pacific region, supporting U.S Special Operations Command training exchanges and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff exercises.
While stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Hopper was part of the team who conducted the Thailand Cave Rescue operation, successfully extracting 13 members of the Thai soccer team who had been trapped in the cave complex for 17 days.
During the Trump presidency, he was deployed on a mission detailed to a Counter-Terrorism Crisis Response Force for an operation supporting the Trump/Kim Jong Un summit in Hanoi.
Hopper’s most recent deployment was to Afghanistan in support of Operation Allies Refuge, where he was helping to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan nationals.
During his Air Force career, Hopper has earned several awards. He was named Air Combat Command’s Pararescue Airman of the Year in 2017 and the Air Force Special Warfare Pararescue Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year in 2019. For his role in the Thai Cave Rescue, he was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Hopper, a Louisville native, graduated from Trinity High School in 2003. As a long-time Cards fan, he enrolled at UofL as a Business Management major. He even walked on to UofL’s Track and Field team as a pole-vaulter. Hopper attributes his success as a special operator to his then-assistant coach on the Track and Field team, Doug Sharp.
Unfortunately having to depart before completing his degree, Hopper knew he always wanted to finish his degree with UofL. In 2020, when he heard about UofL’s B.S. OLL program, with its unique aspects for military members and that he could accomplish it fully online, he “knew he found the perfect program to accommodate his frequent moves with the Air Force.”
Hopper acknowledges CEHD staff members Amber Roberts, director of Undergraduate Student Success, and Chelsea Wicks, senior academic counselor, for providing him with support throughout the program.
“Their support will have been a big factor when I graduate with a degree,” he said.
Hopper plans to use his UofL degree to further his career in the military, or eventually even in his own business.
Hopper who is married with two children, said he can’t wait to get home from Afghanistan to “practice gymnastics and baseball with his kids, and to watch Louisville Cardinal Football … Go Cards!”
UofL honors Hopper’s service in the Air Force and is proud to recognize the 74th birthday of the U.S. Air Force on September 18, 2021.
Story written by Kyle Hurwitz, UofL’s director of Military and Online Initiatives.