This fall, approximately 1,200 college freshmen will begin their first year at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). USAFA is one of the most selective and prestigious colleges in the country, with a 17% acceptance rate. The average ACT of an accepted student is 30-32, and the average high school GPA is above a 3.75. While USAFA is academically challenging, it is also physically rigorous as well. However, these incoming cadets are prepared to accomplish their goals at USAFA. In fact, today I had the opportunity to talk with one of these outstanding teenagers, Olga Boukhvalova, who gave me the inside scoop on how she chose to attend the Academy and how she’s preparing for the next four years.
“I’ve known that I wanted to attend since 8th grade,” says Olga, a senior at Brookfield Central High School in Brookfield, WI. She further explains that before 8th grade she was really shy and interested in art. She remarks, “I honestly didn’t even know that I had that in me”.
Olga explains that her interest in the Air Force began when she found out about the program, Civil Air Patrol (CAP). “That’s when I realized that the military lifestyle was something that I loved and wanted to do,” she says. CAP is an auxiliary of the Air Force that has a cadet program for kids 12-18. Through this program, the kids get to wear the uniform, learn military discipline, customs and courtesies, leadership, and aerospace.
Additionally, Olga explains that when choosing which school to attend, she applied to a lot of different colleges, but only considered the ones that gave her a full ride. Aside from USAFA, Olga also received a full ride to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. At the end of the day, however, USAFA is her dream school, so the choice wasn’t too hard to make.
Preparing for USAFA
“The Academy, itself, is challenging as a whole because it pushes you physically and mentally. It pushes you to become a leader,” Olga explains when I asked her what she thinks will be the most challenging part of her next four years. “I think it will be the combination of everything,” she says, “It will be really physically hard and really academically hard. I think I’ll just need to find a balance.”
While Olga understands that her years at USAFA won’t be easy, she’s definitely doing all she can to prepare. Olga also received the highest honor in the CAP this March, the General Carl A. Spaatz Award. According to the Elmbrook School’s article, “Olga Boukhvalova Presented with Spaatz Award,” “only five out of one thousand cadets (or 0.5%) that join CAP ever receive this award during their service as a cadet. The award is given to CAP cadets that pass the necessary exam and meet appropriate criteria in the categories of leadership, fitness, aerospace, activity participation, and moral character.
Olga accepting her award from Governor Scott Walker
In addition to her training in CAP, she says that she’s always been very physically active. Throughout high school, she was also a varsity gymnast, and even captain this year. However, as she gets ready to leave for basic training in three weeks, she says that she’s pushing herself even more physically. The physical aspect aside, Olga explains that keeping a good moral character is one of the ways that she’s preparing for the next four years.
Olga second to the left with her gymnastics team
Good luck to all USAFA cadets
While Olga’s next four years will definitely be challenging, she like many other cadets is ready to take on USAFA. She’s not sure what life will have in store for her after the Academy. However, she says she plans on studying a STEM major and attending graduate school. Good luck to Olga and the other 1,200 cadets starting their first year at USAFA this fall.