By Emily Crowe
CNJ STAFF WRITER
Alexis O’Leary is no stranger to working hard to accomplish her goals.
A 2013 graduate of Clovis High School, O’Leary was recently accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and will join the school’s freshman class this fall.
After first applying to the academy in 2013, O’Leary was rejected, but received notification that she’d been named a Falcon Scholar. As a Falcon Scholar, she received $5,000 to attend a military preparatory school for one year.
“The Falcon Foundation scholarship guarantees acceptance to USAFA upon completion of a year of prep school,” O’Leary said. Being just on the cusp of acceptance, O’Leary opted to attend New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell for one year.
Her acceptance to USAFA still hinged on maintaining As and Bs in all her classes, receiving a second Congressional nomination and completing a condensed application process including retaking ACTs and SATs.
After the intensive second application process, O’Leary finally received her USAFA acceptance letter last month.
“We’re just very excited,” said Lori O’Leary, Alexis’s mother. “She had a huge setback last year when she didn’t get in and we were certain she was going to, but I think it’s all worked out for the best.”
What activities were you involved with here in Clovis and in high school?
I played on the Clovis High School girl’s soccer team since my eighth grade year until I graduated in 2013. I played two years on JV and three years on varsity. I also ran varsity track my junior and senior year of high school.
I was very involved at Faith Christian Family Church. I worked in the nursery every Friday night for “date night” and volunteered for any community service project they offered when my schedule allowed.
Why did you decide to pursue an education at USAFA?
I have always had a deep desire to serve in the military and especially the Air Force since both of my grandfathers are retired Air Force, one being an officer.
Like any other university, USAFA offers a great education and athletic program; however, the academy provides military and leadership training as well as providing a great education and athletic programs. The academy teaches time management, provides discipline, instills character and teaches their cadets how to lead.
USAFA is the only place that can prepare me both physically and mentally for serving and becoming an officer in the Air Force.
Tell me about your time at NMMI. Has it prepared you for your education at USAFA?
NMMI has definitely prepared me for life at USAFA. The lifestyle at NMMI is one that is similar to the academy. NMMI has taught me time management. We are overloaded with school work (for both semesters I’ve taken 19 hours), mandatory formations for breakfast, lunch and dinner, drill (military training), PT (physical training), and weekend training.
We are required to be up by 6 a.m. every morning and be in bed by 10 p.m. every night. The cadet leadership at NMMI is similar to the Academy. After attending NMMI for almost a year now, I feel that I will be well prepared for the physical and academic demands of the Academy.
What else in your life has prepared you for a career in the military?
I have lived a structured and disciplined life since my dad has been in the New Mexico State Police since 2001. I’ve also been placed in leadership positions on the soccer field and in church youth group.
The honor code, “We will not lie, steal, or cheat. Nor tolerate among us anyone who does,” has been my motto my whole life, even though I have not known what USAFA’s honor code was until I looked into applying. I have lived by the honor code ever since I can remember and I would like to study the military life and develop a partnership with other future officers who value the motto as much as I do.
What career field do you hope to pursue in the Air Force?
I plan on becoming a pilot in the Air Force, either flying helicopters or C-130s.