By Samantha Connelly.
Air Force Preparatory Academy accepted Senior Peter Nguyen into the 10-month program to prepare for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“My biggest inspiration for wanting to join the service academy was my brother Paul,” Peter said. “He wanted to go to West Point, and he knew about it before I even knew about the Academy. So he got me into the idea of ‘Hey, I really want to go to the service academy. It’s a really good opportunity, good college, free education, and I could become an officer in the military.’ So Paul definitely was my biggest inspiration in terms of joining the service academy.”
Born in Tennessee Peter’s childhood was “hectic”. His early life consisted of frequent moving, starting in Tennessee to California, later to settle in Texas his eighth-grade year in San Antonio. There he joined JROTC in San Antonio his freshman year, and by his junior year, he landed in Abilene.
“I liked it, I liked the structure, and I liked the organization,” Peter said. “I don’t like chaos and moving around too much. The military is going to move me around a lot though, so it’s ok.”
The Preparatory Academy, simply called the “Prep School”, prepares cadets for the actual Air Force academy through academic and athletic preparation. Around 240 cadets, who range from those already enlisted, people outside of high school, and selected civilians, are accepted into the school and there is approximately an 80% passover rate of those who get into the actual academy. Peter will also get full benefit as a cadet and won’t have to pay tuition or fees.
“The prep school is definitely well worth it,” Peter said. “I didn’t get into the academy directly, but I will get there so one setback doesn’t mean I completely failed. That’s the biggest thing I want people to take away from this.”
When applying and preparing for the prep school, Peter started from his freshman year with JROTC and pursued core commander, the highest rank in JROTC. In addition to this he had to receive letters of recommendations from his teachers, maintain a high GPA, load his schedule with AP classes, interview previous officers in the Air Force to get recommendations and reviews, a medical, and have a PFT, “Air Force Physical Fitness Test”, score above average.
“In terms of doing well and pursuing the Air Force, [my biggest inspiration would] probably be my mom,” Peter said. “She wanted me to do some type of air space engineering or computer science, so I felt like serving others and pursuing the air force tied hand in hand.”
Peter also had to seek out a congressional nomination from Representative Jodey Arrignton, and did so by approaching his panel and giving letters of recommendation, and got a nomination from him. Peter also received his pilot’s license last year to prepare.
“I do want to give all credit to God and my mom because without them I would not be here,” Peter said. “Same with my siblings and my family. All of them have helped me to get where I am.”