“Would you rather be commissioned on a ship for months trying to reach your destination or fly,” these were the words my Uncle, a General in the United States Air Force, said to me when I was deciding between attending the United States Naval Academy and the United States Air Force Academy.
The five Service Academies, although all very prestigious, are not all the same. Below are 11 facts you might not have known about the Air Force Academy, and my answer to “Why join the Air Force Academy?”
11 Facts About the Air Force Academy
1. At the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), the institution invests in education valued at more than $400,000. The USAFA offers cadets:
- Fully paid tuition
- Cost-free Room and board
- Cost-free Medical care
- A Monthly stipend
- Interest-free loans to cover emergency situations if necessary
- Access to a low-cost, government-sponsored life insurance program
2. Each cadet at the USAFA, receives approximately $1,027 monthly pay that covers the cost of books, uniforms and supplies, with an additional amount left for personal spending ranging from $250-350.
3. Graduates from the United States Air Force Academy will have a variety of career fields to choose from. Graduates are not limited to flying careers, although it is the Air Force. Below is the percentage of graduates and their designated career paths:
- Mission Support (Personnel, Police, Public Affairs, Health): 10%
- Sortie Generation/Logistics (Missile Maintenance, Intelligence): 6%
- Operations (Air Traffic Controller, Space Operations): 16%
- Scientific/Technical (Civil Engineering, Communications, Acquisition): 18%
4. Out of the graduates from the USAFA, about 23% make up the officer force, yet graduates comprise 41% of the general officer ranks.
5. Graduates from United States Air Force Academy have been in the olympics, such as David Higgins in the men’s prone rifle.
6. In 2014, One of the athletes in the program qualified for the Winter Olympic Trials, and earned the first alternate for the U.S. Olympic Team in Bobsled.
7. In 2016 Summer Olympics, out of twenty USAFA Cadets of five qualified for Olympic Trials. One of those cadets earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team in Track and Field and Pole Vaulting.
8. The Air Force Academy Football team has played in 26 bowl games.
9. The elevation at the cadet area is about 7,258 feet (2,212 meters) above sea level. It is often encouraged to train on hills in order to get familiar with the high altitude. It is also important to keep water around you at all times!
10. There are over 700 international opportunities per year at the United States Air Force Academy and they are still working on expanding this program.
11. Most of the military training and leadership programs for the 4,000+ Cadet Wing are led and executed by cadets. This includes learning how to fly planes and free fall parachuting!
Why I Chose to join the United States Air Force Academy
A journey I hope to experience is embarking upon the opportunity to hone in on my purpose in life to become a catalyst for positive change in society. I chose the United States Air Force Academy because I was certain of the path leading toward my desired destination.
I remember my mentor, Tiffany Norwood, being very excited for me but also inquisitive as to “why the Air Force Academy, why become an officer in the United States Military,” the only answer I could respond with was to allow me to embark upon an experience and opportunity bigger than myself.
I looked forward to experiencing the rigorousness, mental, and physical challenges of the United States Air Force Academy which will aid in transforming me into a global leader as much as I look forward to honorably serving my country. Ultimately, USAFA will allow me to become a better citizen that extends into the next steps towards improved civility in the United States of America.
Continuing to master self control, coupled with self awareness, and my moral and ethical compass will allow me to set examples for others. I am at peace knowing I am taking the necessary steps towards physical, emotional, and spiritual improvement. Yes, the United States Air Force Academy will be challenging, I will not be experiencing a traditional college experience, and I definitely will struggle but I am certain being out of my comfort zone will inspire growth and success.
In my opinion, the traditional metrics of the college life seem to be very subjective in this society. There is a bigger emphasis on finding yourself than there is sculpting the person you want to become. The strategic challenges of the USAFA program will teach me perseverance, decimation, and honor to country. These qualities will propel me towards the preparation of becoming a JAG officer and eventually the tenacity to start my own LLC law firm.
Another reason for my decision in the USAFA are the morals and many lessons my family has instilled in me. My family has shared so much love, respect, and support towards my future. Their love and support has fueled my dedication to do my very best, not only for myself but for them.
My parents are both military veterans; my mother is a 100% disabled veteran who is not limited by her disability. As a single-mother we would not have lived as comfortably had our country not passed laws to protect and care for our disabled veterans. My mother’s strong will and independency has made me look up to her in more ways than just an idol. I aspire to be as remarkable as my mother. Being raised in a structured home by my two military veteran parents allowed me to not fear the military life; the structure of the military appeals to me because it is a familiar environment to which I thrive.
My purpose is beyond the college experience and education towards a degree; I want to give back to my country what they have given to me. I want to develop into an honorable citizen, strengthened by integrity and self discipline beyond what was instilled in me by my parents.
John Donnes’ ideology of “No man is an Island alone,” is often forgotten in the American culture; I want to demonstrate to citizens the reason this is important. I want to be a role model in the United States Air Force Academy by representing diversity beyond limitations as a black American female and a reared leader.
My ultimate goal, again, is to become a Jag Officer to represent to American citizens that enlisting is not the only way to serve your country; you are able to learn civility, acquire knowledge, think critically, build physical strength, and become leaders for the greater good of America.
Are you considering attending the United States Air Force Academy or another service academy? Let us know in the comments below.
Heading to the Air Force Academy this summer? Tell your friends and family to download Sandboxx to send you Letters during your summer boot camp.