Senior receives appointment from U.S. Air Force Academy

After months of rigorous training and an extensive application process, senior Olivia Lane officially received an appointment to attend the United States Air Force Academy

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Senior receives appointment from U.S. Air Force Academy

Senior Olivia Lane proudly wears her Air Force Academy t-shirt the day after receiving her appointment (Photo by Bianca Cegatte).

Senior Olivia Lane proudly wears her Air Force Academy t-shirt the day after receiving her appointment (Photo by Bianca Cegatte).

Senior Olivia Lane proudly wears her Air Force Academy t-shirt the day after receiving her appointment (Photo by Bianca Cegatte).

Senior Olivia Lane proudly wears her Air Force Academy t-shirt the day after receiving her appointment (Photo by Bianca Cegatte).

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In four years time, senior Olivia Lane may just be flying planes – but yesterday she was glad to have stuck the landing.

On what seemed like an ordinary morning, Lane and her friend, senior Elizabeth Linton, drove into the parking lot and prepared themselves for what would be the dreaded first day back after a three-day weekend. The pair relaxed as they shuffled through their phones, clearing through the various social app notifications they had woken up to. While Linton’s phone proved to display nothing more than the usual, a particular envelope on Lane’s screen stopped her in her tracks. It was an email from the United States Air Force Academy.

She was in.

“I got an appointment,” Lane said. “We were all screaming in the senior lot.”

Months prior, Lane had dedicated her time to endure a rigorous application process. Inspired by her older brother, who graduated last year at the Academy, Lane began extensively researching the opportunity. “He’s like, ‘Just apply and see, and you can decide,’” Lane said of her brother. But over the course of applying and researching, Lane realized an inner passion for the Academy.

“First of all, the campus is gorgeous,” Lane gushed. The U.S. Air Force Academy is located in Colorado, immediately north of Colorado Springs in El Pasco County with various parks, bike trails and urban open-area spaces. It differs from Lane’s home in Florida because of its dry, colder weathers, but Lane isn’t fazed.

“I just wanted to change it up. I kind of lived in Tampa my whole life, and the opportunities [in Colorado] are limitless,” said Lane of the move.

Admission to the Academy is extremely competitive, yet rewarding because tuition and room and board are all paid for. Lane had to undergo several lengthy processes in order to attain an appointment. She spent much of her time filling out prerequisite statistics about her class rank, SAT scores, etc in hopes of being granted candidate status.

Once a candidate, Lane wrote various essays while her teachers piled recommendation letters. Several pledges and background checks later, Lane was ready for a face-to-face interview with the same woman who had assisted her brother during his admission process.

“My brother was the first person she’d ever done these Academy interviews for,” Lane said, “so she was really excited to meet me.” After her interview, Lane performed a physical task, which she had been training for with her brother for months. The physical task – consisting of running a mile, performing various push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, a shuttle run and a basketball throw – was scheduled in November and, once completed, Lane began worrying about one of the most difficult parts of the admission process: her nomination.

According to the Academy Admissions website, “you must be nominated by a legally authorized nominating entity” in order to be eligible for an appointment. In Lane’s case, her nomination requests were sent to Senator Rubio, Senator Nelson and U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakus. For each nomination, she completed an extensive application and wrote an essay on why she wanted their specific nomination.

Those interested then invited Lane to attend a panel interview, in which they decided whether she was, in fact, the applicant they wanted to nominate. “It was like four military men in each of my interviews, so it was super intimidating and an interesting experience,” said Lane. Although she only needed one nomination to be eligible for the appointment, Lane received two: one from Bilirakus and another from Rubio, who called her the day of her appointment to congratulate her on the achievement.

Now, Lane still “has a few things to wrap up,” such as a criminal background check. She is expected to accept the appointment by April 15 and, once she’s done so, she is to leave for basic training early June. Lane recalls several Hillsborough alumni currently attending the Academy and several of her brother’s friends as well, but overall, Lane plans to make this journey her own.

“It doesn’t scare me that much because I feel like it’s a bonding experience,” she said. “We all have to go through the same basic training right away anyway and I’ve already made some friends with the #USAFof21 [on social media].”

To future applicants, Lane advises not to back out. “Just give it a shot. Even if I didn’t get in, it was a really cool experience to have to go through all those interviews and…learn some things about professionalism,” she said. “Go for it because it’s worth a shot.”

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