GIRARD — A Girard High School student will head to Colorado this June to attend the United States Air Force Academy.
GHS Senior Camden McFarland received a call from U.S. Senator Jerry Moran Feb. 1, notifying him of his acceptance to the USAFA. McFarland received Moran’s principal nomination to the Air Force Academy, as well as nomination to the United States Naval Academy and Air Force Academy from Sen. Pat Roberts and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins.
“The principal nomination was the one that counted,” McFarland said. “It insures acceptance as long as I met the other necessary criteria.”
Even after receiving the principal nomination, McFarland still had to wait until February for the official word. He was waiting for his waiver from the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board.
“This whole process has definitely taught me some patience,” he said.
McFarland received nominations to the Air Force and Naval academies, but said the Air Force was his first choice. That fact — as well as his initial interest in the military — stemmed from his brother.
McFarland’s older brother attended the University of Kansas and was an ROTC member. He has served in the United States Air Force for nine years.
“He went to KU and was in ROTC, so I got to see him commissioned,” McFarland said. “He was already my role model, but that made him even cooler in my eyes, and I wanted to be like him.”
While he believes the Air Force is where he is meant to be, McFarland did take an interest in the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and said he got the opportunity to learn there over the summer.
When another GHS student, Eric Wilson, was accepted to the Naval Academy last year, McFarland began looking in that direction. He was accepted to spend a week at the Naval Academy as part of its summer program.
“That’s part of what drew me to heavily looking at the military academies,” McFarland said. “Before that, I was looking at regular four-year universities and ROTC, but I was really impressed with the students leading us in Annapolis.
“They were only a year or two older than me, but the level of leadership and maturity they showed was so different from myself.”
McFarland said he is always looking to challenge and better himself, and his experience in the summer program solidified that going to a military academy was the right path to do just that.
“By the end of that week I had gotten so close with my squad,” he said. “If that could happen in six days, I can’t imagine what it will be like for four years.”
McFarland already has his sights set on a possible career. He hopes to become a combat rescue officer — airmen who control rescue operations on the ground during combat — but is keeping his options open as he prepares to attend the academy.
His first day in Colorado will be June 28, when he’ll begin basic cadet training. The training lasts six weeks and includes a transition from civilian to military life, as well as military training. After the training, he’ll begin his academic year at the Air Force Academy.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.