Air Force Academy cadets earn prestigious scholarships

  • Published
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – Two seniors at the Air Force Academy received celebrated international scholarships this week.

Cadet 1st Class Aryemis Brown, a humanities and legal studies major, received the Rhodes scholarship, and Cadet 1st Class Emily Berexa, an aeronautical engineering major, received the Holaday scholarship.

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark said the Holaday and Rhodes scholarships are “incredibly competitive” and "require enormous amounts of talent and preparation.”

“Congratulations to Aryemis, Emily and their families, and thank you to all who helped prepare them for this achievement throughout their time at USAFA!” he said. “We’re all extremely proud of you both! Go Falcons!"

According to the Rhodes Trust website, the Rhodes scholarship is the oldest international scholarship program and allows outstanding young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxford.

The scholarship is a “life-changing opportunity for exceptional young people with the potential to make a difference for good in the world. Rhodes scholars are people who have a vision of how the world could be better and the energy to make a difference “whatever their sphere of interest,” according to the Rhodes Trust.

The Holaday scholarship is an annual scholarship that allows one cadet who competes for, but does not receive, a Rhodes scholarship, to complete graduate work at Oxford. The scholarship funds two years of graduate study for a master's degree in any field. Bart Holaday, a 1965 Academy graduate, and his wife Lynn established the scholarship to honor Holaday’s mother.

Brown, from Colorado Springs, plans to pursue a master’s in global governance and diplomacy, and a master’s in public policy.

“A Rhodes scholarship is a life-changing investment to stand up for the world,” he said. “I thought ‘why me?’ and then I reflected on the countless teachers, coaches and commanders who championed my growth and development every step of the way.”

Brown expects to arrive at Oxford in October.

“This humbling scholarship speaks less about me and more about the Air Force Academy,” he said. “What ‘Team USAFA’ does each day is impressive. This year has been challenging, but this community is resilient. I feel ready for this next chapter in my life because of the kind people I learn from every day here.” 

Berexa, from Brentwood, Tennessee, plans to pursue an engineering science masters and hopes to research at Oxford Thermofluids Institute, also known as “Osney Laboratory.”

“I’m incredibly thankful and humbled by this opportunity,” she said. “I’m incredibly thankful for the family, friends and mentors who have supported me over the past couple of years.”

Berexa said she’s especially grateful for the aeronautics department staff who encouraged and inspired her, including her advisor, Professor Aaron Byerley; Department Head Col. Douglas Wickert; and Director of Graduate Studies Helen Meisenhelder.

“We are beyond lucky to have ‘Dr. M’ mentor and support us,” she said. “So many of these scholarships and opportunities would not be possible without her.”