Cadet Lt. Col. Jacob Whited, CAP, a member of Deer Valley Composite Squadron 302, will join the U.S. Air Force Academy class of 2022. A recent graduate of Cactus Shadows High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., Whited reports on June 28 to start basic cadet training and will attend classes in Colorado Springs for the next four years. Whited, who is majoring in aerospace engineering, plans to become an Air Force officer and a pilot.
“When I was seven years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be a soldier,” Whited recalls. “When I was 12, I looked into Junior ROTC and Civil Air Patrol, and decided to join CAP.”
“I took a rigorous schedule of classes in high school,” Whited said, when asked how he prepared himself to apply for nomination to the Academy. “I wanted to be sure to maintain a grade point average between 3.5 and 4.0.” He also participated in sports including cross country, track, and swim club throughout high school to prepare for the physical requirements of an Academy cadet.
In the Civil Air Patrol, Whited attained the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel and was the former Cadet Commander for Deer Valley Composite Squadron 302. “CAP has probably prepared me better than most of my (Academy) classmates. I have worked with all levels of leadership and also with younger cadets who have no experience,” Whited said. He said his involvement in both CAP and Boy Scouts prepared him for the leadership role he may be expected to take on at the Academy.
Starting last summer, Whited took the final step in his quest for an Academy nomination, which involved filling out multiple applications. He applied to both U.S. Senators from Arizona and his Congressman, requesting a nomination. There were interviews with the senators’ and congressman’s staff and another with the Air Force liaison. That part of the process was completed in mid-December 2017.
“At the same time, I was applying to other schools where I could study aerospace engineering,” Whited said. That included Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Texas A&M, and five other universities.
In mid-April 2018, Whited received notice that he was nominated by Congressman David Schweikert to attend the Academy. According to the Academy website, a nomination does not guarantee an appointment. There was more to be done, including physical fitness testing, more paperwork to fill out, immunizations and a security clearance.
Whited shared some advice for other cadets who are looking to go to the Air Force Academy. “Don’t try and do everything,” Whited said. “The Academy looks for well-rounded applicants, but it’s better to do a few things really well rather than spreading yourself too thin.”
Whited said he learned that lesson when he tried to take honors, AP, and IB classes at the same time as participating in sports and keeping up with his staff position at the Deer Valley Squadron. “When I realized I had been taking on too much, I started spreading out my activities,” Whited said.
–C/SMSgt. Samantha Armstrong contributed to this article.