171 cadet-candidates graduate from Academy’s prep school

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Zach Vaughn
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

Scores of cadet-candidates celebrated their graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School on May 16, 2022.

All told, 171 cadet-candidates graduated after completing an uncompromising ten-month program to develop their academic, military and athletic skills, said Col. Melissa Youderian, U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School commander.

“It wasn’t easy, but it’s not meant to be.” Youderian said. “You only experience growth when you are challenged; when you get outside of your comfort zone and have others pushing you to be better.”

Graduation from the Prep School does not guarantee appointment to the Academy, but a cadet-candidate’s performance throughout the program can earn them a recommendation from the Prep School commander.

Cadet 1st Class Zachary Phillips, a former Prep School student and top prior preppie cadet in the Academy’s Class of 2022, shared his wisdom on overcoming the challenges Cadets face.

“Don’t go into it thinking it’s nothing but a struggle,” Phillips said. “I’ve had some of the best times of my life at the Academy. I’ve met some of the best people.”

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Academy’s superintendent, laid out his intentions to the 169 cadet-candidates who received an appointment to the Academy and will join the class of 2026.

“Being a leader of character is a journey, it’s not a destination. And on that journey, there are some key traits that we must demonstrate.” Clark said. “A leader of character embodies our core values of integrity first; by living honorably every day, even when nobody’s looking. We embody service before self; by lifting others to be their best possible selves. And we must embody excellence in all we do; by elevating performance towards a common and noble purpose.”

The Prep School was established in 1961 and offers a select group of cadet-candidates a pathway to be admitted to the Academy.

Award Winners

Aidan Corcoran – top English cadet candidate

Nathan Goethal – top mathematics cadet candidate

Payton Wade – top science cadet candidate

Kahleia Salcedo – academically most improved cadet candidate

Bryce Leapart – top academic cadet candidate

Brenden Barnes – top physical fitness test and aerobic fitness test cadet candidate (male)

Ricky Fetterolf – top PFT and AFT cadet candidate (female)

Rytis Petraitis – outstanding athlete cadet candidate (male)

Emily Adams – outstanding athlete cadet candidate (female)

Aidan Corcoran – outstanding military cadet candidate

Jonas Grubb – outstanding character development cadet candidate

Hunter Saenz – overall outstanding cadet candidate