By Carolyn Perlmutter | Entertainment Editor
Senior Sam Eckholm was accepted into the United States Air Force Academy on Jan. 16. Principal Beverly. Vance pulled him out of his sixth-period class, where he was surprised by his family and U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions, who called to notify Sam that he had officially been offered an appointment to the Academy.
The Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Col., is a public military service academy that prepares cadets to be future leaders in the United States Air Force. Students receive a full four-year scholarship valued at approximately $500,000.
It is ranked among the best colleges in the country and is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of about 9.9 percent. There are 4,120 undergraduate students at the Academy, and upon graduation, cadets receive a Bachelor of Science degree.
“I have dreamed of attending the United States Air Force Academy since I was a kid,” Sam Eckholm said. “My dad and uncle were both graduates and Air Force officers, and I grew up around the military life. I want to be presented with a challenge that will ultimately make me a better person, and I aspire to serve and defend our incredible country.”
The application process is tedious and is made up of many different sections.
“I began applying toward the end of my junior year,” Sam said.
In addition to essays, teacher recommendations, test scores and other components found on all college applications, in order to be accepted into the Air Force Academy, Sam had to pass a medical evaluation and fitness test. He also had to secure a Congressional nomination.
Each member of Congress can have only five students from their district attending the Academy at one time. For each open slot that they have, they are allowed to nominate 10 candidates. Sam received Congressman Sessions’ principal nomination.
The 32nd congressional district is one of the most competitive districts in the nation. It includes students from all of RISD, Highland Park, St. Mark’s and other top public and private schools from the area.
“The hardest part of the whole process was making sure I had completed everything to the best of my ability,” Sam said. “I had worked my whole life toward this goal, and I made sure that what I submitted was truly reflective on who I am as a person.”
Those who accept their offer of appointment to the Air Force Academy commit to a minimum of five years on active duty service. Upon graduation, each cadet is commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
“It has always been a dream of mine to become a pilot, and I plan to pursue a career as an Air Force officer,” Sam said.
Sam will report to Colorado Springs for inprocessing on June 26 when he will begin six weeks of basic cadet training.