Airman to Air Force Preparatory School

  • Published
  • By Maj Andrea Morris
  • 931 ARW

Senior Airman Alexander Clark knew from the age of eight that he wanted to serve in the Air Force. Like many, his initial dream was to fly fighter jets.  However, as he grew older his priorities changed and he decided to enlist right out of high school for the benefits.

“My family struggled for years. Getting health insurance was the biggest reason I joined the reserves. Being able to get a VA loan, getting college paid for, and not getting into debt. My father always taught me to stay away from student loans and credit cards.”

In 2018, Clark graduated from Derby High School and went into Security Forces, where he excelled.

“My father has always instilled in me our family quote: “It’s ok to struggle but it’s not ok to quit, because we are more than overcomers in Christ Jesus.”

His plan was to pursue his bachelor’s degree through the many benefits offered via the Air Force Reserve such as Tuition Assistance and the GI Bill.  However, early in 2020, he learned of a path that allowed enlisted members to apply to the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

Luckily for Senior Airman Clark, his leadership supported his dreams of attending a service academy and encouraged him to pursue the application process. Lt. Col. Matt Basler, the 931st Mission Support Director and former assistant professor of History at the Air Force Academy, met with Clark and explained the opportunities available to him. A fire was lit in Senior Airman Clark and he wanted to try this new avenue.  

Senior Airman Clark knew the road would be extremely difficult as less than sixty enlisted Airmen are accepted throughout the entire Air Force enterprise during any given year. To prepare, he had to gather numerous documents detailing his life, improve his fitness scores, obtain a nomination letter from his squadron commander, and prepare for an in-person interview with an Academy Admissions Liaison Officer. After almost an entire year of preparing, Senior Airman Clark learned in March that he was one of only fifty enlisted members accepted to the Academy, with orders to report in July, 2021. 

”I am incredibly proud of Alex! His determination, grit, and perseverance during this last year has been truly inspirational,” said Lt. Col. Basler.  “He is a bright and shiny example of the wonderful Airmen that we have in our Air Force.  His triumph illustrates that anything is possible for anyone in our Air Force.”

After the 10-month-long period at the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School, Senior Airman Clark will matriculate to the Air Force Academy. Following four years of rigorous academic study, he will graduate with a bachelor’s degree and be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. Clark is interested in majoring in biochemistry or biology and pursuing a career as either a fighter pilot, Special Forces officer, or a flight nurse.

“I know there is a long road ahead, but I am grateful for this opportunity and grateful for my leadership for believing in me.”