Argyll accepted into Air Force Academy
FAIRMOUNT — A Madison-Grant fifth grader dreamed about attending a military academy and becoming a pilot.
Seven years later, he’s almost there.
That former fifth grader, Kevin Johnsen, will graduate from Madison-Grant High School at the top of his class on June 9, but his letter of appointment from the U.S. Air Force Academy means just as much as his diploma.
“When I was little, I told my grandfather, who was in the Army and Air Force, ‘I want to go into the military, but I want to go to school, too. I want to get a good education,’” Johnsen said. “And that’s when my mom stepped in and said, ‘Let me introduce you to the service academies.’ And I’ve been looking at the service academies ever since.”
Johnsen holds a student pilot certificate and flies often at the Alexandria Airport. That knowledge, he said, will give him an advantage of getting into undergraduate pilot training after he completes at least one year at the academy.
“My overall goal, aspiration, dream is to fly an A-10,” he said.
Johnsen was nominated for the academy by U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-District 5, who called him personally on March 14 to tell him he had received an appointment. Admission to the Academy is extremely competitive. Only about 1,200 are admitted each year.
“Kevin has all the qualities we look for in a candidate for our military academies: a strong record of service, good character, superb academic credentials and demonstrated leadership capabilities,” Brooks said. “This is a young man who has excelled in the classroom, been a dedicated member of the Boy Scouts of America, served as captain of the varsity cross country, wrestling and track teams at Madison-Grant, made a difference in his hometown of Summitville, and led his class as president four years in a row.”
Chris Smedley, principal of Madison-Grant High School, said Johnsen’s determination to succeed has been evident in everything he’s done throughout high school.
“He’s worked really hard to prepare himself for the next level,” Smedley said. “We’re extremely proud of his accomplishments. It’s a credit to his hard work and dedication. He’s been pursuing this dream for a while now, and it’s inspiring to see him achieve it.”
Johnsen took geometry, pre-calculus and two calculus classes in addition to three chemistry and one physics class during high school. He said the rigor was good for him to experience before heading to the academy to major in mechanical engineering.
“School has always come easy to me, but I realized that with some of the courses I’ve taken that studying is definitely something that’s going to be important,” he said. “That work ethic … is something that hopefully has been instilled. I feel as though it has been.”
High school Guidance Counselor Gwen Hodson has known Johnsen since he attended elementary school at Summitville Elementary. She said that even then, he knew what he wanted to do and has always been determined to achieve acceptance into the Air Force Academy, even when facing challenges.
“It seemed like he would run into roadblock after roadblock (with his academy application),” she said. “And he just stuck with it and kept plowing through.”
The application process began a year ago. While working on his academy application, Johnsen also applied to Rose-Hulman, his second-choice college, which sent him an acceptance letter in December 2016.
Johnsen will in-process with the U.S. Air Force on June 29 and start cadet basic training at the academy shortly after. His parents, Erik and Dawn, will be able to visit him during Parents’ Weekend later in the summer.
“I believe that I am prepared for the academy lifestyle,” Johnsen said. “It’s going to stretch me. It’s going to push me to my limits academically, physically and emotionally.”
Brooks said that she is grateful for people like Johnsen who are led to serve in the military.
“I’m proud to have nominated him to the Air Force Academy,” she said.
Johnsen said he doesn’t take others’ confidence and support lightly.
“It’s an honor to be offered an appointment,” he said. “It’s an honor to be headed to a service academy, and I’d like to thank everyone who’s been there to support me, especially my parents and the administration of the school for getting me to where I want to be and helping me fulfill my dreams.”