Linz earns appointment to U.S. Air Force Academy | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | March 31, 2016 5:00 am
Last Updated: March 30, 2016 at 12:14 pm
By CINDY CROSBY
Could you imagine knowing exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are in the fifth grade?
For most of us, the answer would be an unequivocal “no.” But for Kirsten Linz, a senior at Colleton County High School, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Her goal to become a pilot in the Air Force became a reality on March 2 when she received an appointment to attend the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The USAFA, established in 1954, is a coeducational public liberal arts college, described as being “a world-class university designed to create strong leaders.” Upon graduation, students are ranked as second lieutenants in the Air Force with a strong background in military training and leadership experience which prepares them to become officers.
Kirsten’s appointment to the USAFA is quite the accomplishment. As one of the most selective colleges in the country, the process of applying requires more dedication and determination than the normal college application. With a GPA of 4.72 and ranking of No. 7 in her class, she began working on the application process last summer. Kirsten would go through a nomination and evaluation process based on her academic ability, physical and character assessments, interviews and medical screening. She also spent a week in Colorado last summer before receiving her appointment, sponsored by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.
Come June, Kirsten will face a rigorous schedule, along with extremely high expectations and rules of conduct. But the benefits far out-weigh what some could consider negatives, according to Kirsten. “I’ll be receiving an education valued at more than $400,000 cost-free,” said Kirsten. Her appointment also includes free room and board and free medical care, along with a monthly stipend. To put this into perspective, Kirsten won’t owe a penny in student loans upon graduation.
Kirsten knows the demands on her will be tough, beginning as soon as she arrives and takes the oath to become a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. “The Air Force Academy isn’t a typical college,” said Kirsten. “It is a military institution and it is a demanding experience: physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ll go through rigorous, six-week basic cadet training, which introduces new cadets to the military. I’m going to need a lot of determination to get through the first year.”
What is Kirsten most excited about? Every cadet who enters the academy takes part in the flying experience. “It was a family friend, Dan Quinn, who told me about the Air Force and introduced me to Civil Air Patrol,” acknowledged Kirsten. “That is where I learned I wanted to fly and be around airplanes. He told me about the Air Force Academy and about how good the Air Force has been to him.”
Colleton County has not had a student to receive an appointment such as this since at least 1999. “We were very excited for Kirsten,” said CCHS Guidance Counselor Liz Lipscomb. “We’ve been waiting and waiting to get the news. We were biting our nails to see if she was going to get in. It is such a lengthy process and no one could possibly understand how hard Kirsten has worked to make this happen. It is so much paperwork to complete — example being a 127-page security brief check that she just recently completed. It is extensive because it is the No. 5 school in the country and requires numerous endorsements. For Kirsten to receive this nomination is huge for Colleton County High School and the community.”
Kirsten’s decision to pursue and accept the appointment to the Air Force Academy will mean guaranteed employment with many career options for years to come. She plans to focus on air nautical engineering and retire after a 20-year career as a pilot.
Knowing Kirsten’s single-minded determination since fifth grade to gain admission to the Academy, one could hardly doubt her next flight.