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Local cadet accepted into U.S. Air Force Academy

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. 

Skjeveland 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.

Skjeveland graduated from Mankato West High School last year and 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. She attended the preparatory school remotely because of the pandemic. 

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 state legislator 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 will be reporting for duty in Colorado Springs on June 24. She will begin her education with six weeks of basic training. 

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