by 1st Lt. Valerie Harwood
166th AIrlift Wing Public Affairs
6/16/2015 - NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Delaware -- Three Delaware Air National Guard Airmen will be departing this June to receive a free world-class education.
Airmen 1st Class Sharon Dominguez and Luke McFadden have been accepted
into the 2019 United States Air Force Academy graduating class, in
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Airman 1st Class Ryan Weber has been accepted into the USAFA Preparatory
School. Upon completion he will be eligible to apply for the 2020 USAFA
Dominguez is a North Hagerstown, Md. native. She graduated from North
Hagerstown High School, Md. and is currently enrolled at the University
of Delaware in Newark. Dominguez enlisted in the Delaware ANG in August
2012 and is a certified radio frequency transmission systems technician.
McFadden is a Bear, Del. native. He was home schooled and graduated high
school from the Powle Institute and is currently enrolled at the
University of Delaware. McFadden enlisted in the Delaware ANG in January
2013 and is a certified aircraft environment and electrical systems
"I joined the Delaware Air Guard because it seemed like a good opportunity and I recommend it to anyone," said McFadden.
"I want to major in electrical engineering at the U.S. Air Force Academy."
Weber is a Newark, Del. native. He was home schooled and graduated high
school from the Mount Sophia Academy and is currently enrolled but on
military leave from the University of Delaware.
Weber enlisted in the Delaware ANG in April 2013 and is a certified metals aircraft technologist.
"I heard about the Air Force Academy on base through a meeting Col.
Castaldi [166th Maintenance Group commander] held and he explained there
were opportunities for Delaware Guardsmen age 23 years old and younger
to attend the Academy through the Leaders Encouraging Airmen Development
program," said Weber.
The LEAD program was developed by Air Force leaders to encourage
aspiring enlisted Airmen to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. Upon
completion of the program, LEAD Airmen are commissioned as second
lieutenants with a bachelor's of science degree.
Airmen applying to the USAFA through the LEAD program have an advantage
compared with high school applicants because Airmen do not need to
obtain a nomination from a U.S. senator or congressman. In place of a
nomination, enlisted Airmen only need to receive an endorsement from
their local commander.
According to the USAFA, they receive more than 12,000 applicants each year, and admits just over 1,000 as cadets.
In order to be eligible to apply to the USAFA all three Airmen had to be
of good moral character and meet basic eligibility requirements. Also,
each service member must be at least 17 years old but not past their
23rd birthday by July 1 of the year they enter the Academy, be a United
States citizen, and unmarried with no dependents.
The USAFA is a challenging environment by design. Their mission is to
inspire and encourage excellence in their applicants, and competition
for an appointment is highly competitive.
The USAFA assesses potential cadets through academics, athletics,
character and leadership potential as demonstrated by the life
experiences and achievements of each applicant.
"The Academy is an amazing opportunity and I would encourage every young
Airman to apply, I mean it's a $435,000 education, for free
essentially!" said Dominguez. "Of course you pay with your time in
service but that is the ultimate goal here, to become an officer in the
world's greatest Air Force."
If Weber is accepted into the Academy after Preparatory School, the
three Delaware ANG Airmen combined will receive a free college education
worth over $1,248,000, not including Weber's 10-month USAFA Preparatory
The preparatory school accepts only 240 cadet candidates annually and is
designed to academically, physically and militarily prepare qualified
young men and women to enter the Academy.
"I could see myself making the military a career after my five year
commitment," said McFadden. "I have two older brothers in the Delaware
Army Guard and I joined the Air Guard because I was interested in doing
hands-on electrical work."
USAFA cadets can choose from majors in aeronautical engineering,
astronautical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering,
electrical engineering, engineering mechanics, environmental
engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, materials
science, computer science and management.
The USAFA will develop cadet skills, character and motivation. A cadet's
future with the Air Force will allow for focused ambition, purposeful
self-discovery and impactful study during their college years.
If you are interested in the LEAD program contact your supervisor and base education office for guidance.
To learn more about the U.S. Air Force Academy, visit www.usafa.af.mil.