Veteran Mom Wins McConnell Scholarship

By Staff Reports

(Victorville)– A Victorville mother and Navy veteran has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr. Scholarship, in honor of America’s all-time top-scoring fighter jet ace.

Kristin Chaffin already holds a degree in Mathematics/Science and is pursuing a degree in nursing at Victor Valley College. She has the goal of working as a nurse at a Veterans Administration hospital.

“I was born to be a nurse,” Chaffin wrote in her application essay. “To love someone I just met, to hold and share in the emotions of life, to encourage and support those that need a boost and to teach what I know. This is how I would describe nursing.”

Chaffin is the mother of four children under 16 and works in health care. The $500 scholarship will make a difference.

“As many know, VVC’s nursing program is highly respected and it’s very rigorous,” Chaffin said. “I thought it would be best to cut my (work) hours so that I may give the program my all, unfortunately nursing books and supplies are expensive. My long-term goal is to obtain my Masters to become a Nurse Practitioner. Aim High!”

Trish McConnell, daughter of Capt. McConnell, said Chaffin’s scholarship application stood out from the pack.

“Kristin is a hard-working mom. She is a very determined woman who served our great Country in the Navy,” Trish McConnell said. “And now she wants to become a nurse to help others. My dad would be so proud.”

Former Apple Valley resident Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr. was stationed at George Air Force Base in Victorville in the 1950s before flying F-86 Sabres in the Korean War where he shot down 16 enemy MiG-15 fighter jets. A national hero, McConnell returned to his home in Apple Valley. On Aug. 6, 1953, the people of Apple Valley gave Capt. McConnell and his family a new home, the “Appreciation House,” on Highway 18, across from Lions Park. The house was completed in 45 hours with all land, material, and labor donated. In 1955 Warner Brothers released the feature movie, “The McConnell Story.” Capt. McConnell died in a flight test accident and rests at Victor Valley Memorial Park. He remains America’s all-time top-scoring jet ace.

The Capt. Joseph McConnell, Jr. Scholarship is privately funded and awarded through the Victor Valley College Foundation. For more information, click on

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