MANKATO — Sarah Skjeveland has dreamed of attending the U.S. Air Force Academy since she was a young girl.
The Mankato native's dream is about to come true. She is receiving her letter of admission for the academy during a ceremony tonight at the Mankato Regional Airport.
“She is very deserving of this,” said Mankato Civil Air Patrol Squadron Cmdr. Dwight Tostenson. “She’s worked very hard to get here.”
The ceremony takes place at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.
"I'm excited for the opportunity," Skjeveland said.
She has been an active cadet in the Mankato Civil Air Patrol since she was 13. She joined the patrol after her father, who had been in the Civil Air Patrol when he was younger, encouraged her to attend a meeting on it. Through the program, she had the opportunity to get her pilot's license and said the experiences made her want to go farther and attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.
"It made me really interested in doing this as a career," she said.
Skjeveland graduated from Mankato West High School last year and applied to the academy. She was awarded a Falcon Foundation scholarship by the U.S. Air force Academy to attend Northwestern Preparatory School in San Bernardino, California in the fall to help further her education before going to the academy.
She applied for the academy again this year and received nominations from U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and 1st District Congressman Rep. Jim Hagedorn for a spot.
Tostenson said applicants are lucky if they can get one referral from a U.S. lawmaker so it’s quite an accomplishment that Skjeveland received referrals from three. Hagedorn was the one who called Skjeveland to tell her she'd been accepted into the academy.
The academy is very competitive and Skjeveland said the application process was rigorous.
The academy has academic, character and fitness requirements that applicants must meet. Recent students in the academy have averaged in the top 3% of their high school classes, according to the academy's website.
Skjeveland plans to study biology with a minor in French. She said it's beneficial to know two languages in the military and she chose French because she likes the language and took four years of it in high school. She hopes to go to medical school and become a cardiologist for the military someday.
Skjeveland will be reporting for duty in Colorado Springs on June 24. She will begin her education with six weeks of basic training.