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College Beat

Opportunities Abound at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

By C1C Cinthya Elizondo Gamez.
B Flight Commander
CS-36 “Proud Pink Panthers”
United States Air Force Academy

When I was 12 years old, I visited Joint-Base San Antonio, Texas, to attend my brother’s graduation from Basic Military Training. Watching my brother march onto the parade field with the rest of the young graduates made a great impression. My brother has always been one of my biggest role models and I always wanted to be like him. The first thing I did when I got home after his graduation was to research joining the military. I discovered the service academies, but I only had my eyes set on one — the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Since then, I wanted to attend the Academy and become a pilot.

Learning about security forces for deployed operations in Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. June 2015.

My parents always supported me in my decisions, so when I told them in seventh grade that I wanted to apply to the Academy, they were ecstatic. Ever since, I tried much harder in school: I joined the cross country and track teams in high school and took honors and advanced placement classes to make myself a better candidate for the Academy. The application process for the Academy is very rigorous, so I never gave up and gave my all to get the best grades possible. I am proud to say that I am now a cadet first class, a college senior, getting ready to graduate next year.

Getting to this point was not easy. I was born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and lived there until I was eight years old. Due to my father’s work, we moved to Cerritos, California. The move was rough. I didn’t speak English and my extended family stayed in Mexico. As I began third grade in California, I did not really know what was going on; I would copy the school work of the boy sitting next to me. This language barrier inhibited me from doing well in most school subjects for the first few months except for one: math. Luckily for me, math is a universal language. Considering how math deals with numbers rather than words, there were no language barriers in my math classes, and thus began my love for math. Here I am now, about to graduate as an applied math major. I never really thought that I would get to this point — I mean, I did not even speak English for the first eight years of my life, but yet here I am.

The Academy offers so many great learning experiences; I traveled to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, for a month and learned how Airmen live and work while deployed and the sacrifices they make for the United States; I traveled to Spain to attend the Spanish Air Force Academy for a semester, met with Spanish cadets and learned more about the Spanish language and culture.

Meeting the Ambassador to Spain while studying at the Spanish Air Force Academy. November 2015.

C1C Cinthya Elizondo Gamez after completing the powered flight program. July 2016.

Recently, I led training for new cadets need for them to become part of the cadet wing. The Academy has offered me a vast amount of leadership opportunities that have helped me grow as a person and leader. Thanks to these opportunities, I feel ready to start the next chapter of my life as a pilot trainee. I am very grateful for these opportunities and to protect all what this country stands for.

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