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Prep School needs officers, cadets to mentor cadet candidates

Prep School

A mentorship program at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School connects cadet candidates with officers and cadets. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY PUBLIC AFFAIRS -- You need a lot of things to make it through the Air Force Academy.

You need determination and teamwork.

You need mentors.

Most Academy graduates say they couldn’t have been commissioned without help.

The same goes for graduates of the Academy’s Preparatory School, said Chief Master Sgt. Heather Muse, Prep School command chief. 

“No matter what point you are in your Air Force career, you didn't get to that point by yourself,” she said. “Your promotions, awards, decorations and all your successful accomplishments are not achieved alone. They have been achieved on the backs of your family, friends, mentors and fellow Airmen.”

To that end, the Prep School initiated the Mentoring Program last summer to help cadet candidates.

It’s the product of feedback from cadet candidate and former preppies and allows junior and senior cadets to mentor cadet candidates.

“The cadets who have made it through the first two years at the Academy have enough maturity and separation from the Prep School to give guidance and advice,” said Nikki Mench, who manages the Mentorship Program. 

Cadet Candidate Sophie Estes said the program has improved her Prep School experience.

“I’ve started to use the advice our mentors have given us and I feel better off in all aspects,” she said. “Getting a glimpse of what life at the Academy is going to be like allows me to prepare for the transition.”

Cadet 1st Class Erika Chambers is one of the cadets in charge of the program.

“We’ve had over six sessions already with over 30 cadets involved,” she said. “We still have a lot of scheduling and session ideas to work on, but I’m happy about the progress we’ve made.”

Mench said the program is a work in progress.

“Our biggest hurdle is scheduling and gaining excusal for the cadet mentors to be here when we need them,” she said. “Cadets are some of the busiest humans on the planet. Every mission element at the Cadet Wing has been supportive and engaged, but we’re still talking about cadet time and everyone is very protective of that.”

Still, Mench has high hopes.

“We’re getting there slowly but surely,” she said.

Company grade officers or cadets can call 333-9790 to get involved.