Two local women recently were accepted into the Cadet Wing of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Leah Wiegers of Lansing High School and Cierra Robinson of Leavenworth High School are 2018 graduates of their respective high schools.
“I feel so honored and blessed to have been given this opportunity,” Wiegers said. “This wouldn’t have been possible without my amazing support system: my family, friends, teachers and mentors. I am so excited to see how much I grow and learn in the next four years and to see where this journey takes me.”
The cadets participated in a six-week basic training program and took part in the USAFA Acceptance Day Parade earlier this month.
More than 4,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy marched in formation during the parade.
Wiegers and Robinson are two of 1,161 applicants to be accepted in this year’s class among 10,376 people who applied.
“Just to get selected is an accomplishment,” said Derrick Robinson, Cierra’s father. “Then they throw six weeks of basic at you. … It’s a stressful and strenuous time for them.”
“Having the privilege to go to school and live with some of the brightest and hardworking individuals in the country is most definitely an honor,” Cierra Robinson said. “It’s a humbling experience knowing that the person right next to you is working just as hard if not harder than you are. To be in the world’s greatest Air Force and to be trained by world class officers is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am blessed to be a part of.”
The year’s class is made up of 25 percent women, the largest percentage of female cadets since women were allowed into the Air Force Academy in 1976.
“It can be tough here at times in academics, athletics and military training, but no matter what you’re going through, there are so many sources of support to reach out to,” Wiegers said.
Cadets take college classes just like other civilian colleges and universities. But in addition to academics, cadets study, practice and demonstrate how to be leaders.
“The fact that they were able to even get accepted is exceptional in itself,” said Meade Warthen, spokesman for the AFA. “These are very outstanding people who will be the future leaders of character of tomorrow.”
“It has been quite an adjustment but one that is necessary in order to grow as an individual,” Cierra Robinson said. “Every day is a grind that in due time will pay off. … The relationships that you build here at the USAFA are ones that are going to last you a whole lifetime. There are multiple reasons why I decided to come to this institution but those relationships will be the reason I stay.”