By Bill Tamburrino
Stuart Corbett has completed two years of college, but instead of transferring from San Diego Mesa College where he has been majoring in mechanical engineering to a four-year institution, Corbett is going to start college all over again.
Corbett left for basic cadet training at the United States Air Force Academy last Wednesday.
“I got interested in attending the Air Force Academy during my senior year at Ramona High School,” he said. “One of my friends, Ian Bablewski, considered going there and he told me about the academy. It was too late for me to apply, so I enrolled at Mesa and started the application process my first semester at Mesa.
“My volleyball coach, Coach Connie Halfaker, helped me and wrote letters of recommendation for me. Coach Halfaker helped me get a meeting with Congressman Duncan D. Hunter and he gave me a nomination. She is a great coach and a special person.”
To gain admittance to the Air Force Academy, candidates must pass a fitness test, undergo a thorough medical examination and secure a nomination that usually comes from a Congressman from the candidate’s home district. Candidates are also judged on their academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, athletic ability and moral character. Of 1,400 applicants, about 8 percent are accepted each year and about 1,000 usually graduate.
Forbes Magazine recently ranked the Air Force Academy the second best public college in the United States and the seventh best overall. Tuition, room and board are covered by the government and the cadets receive a monthly stipend but incur a commitment to serve in the military after graduation.
Corbett graduated from RHS in 2009. He had a 4.3 grade point average and earned four varsity letters in volleyball. He also served as a mentor at Mount Woodson Elementary School three days a week.
At Mesa, Corbett earned a 3.5 grade point average and played volleyball two seasons and also returned to help coach the RHS teams. Since every cadet at the Air Force Academy is required to participate in intercollegiate or intramural sports, Corbett hopes to play club volleyball or go out for rugby.
He hopes to major in aerospace engineering or electrical engineering at the academy and plans on making the Air Force a career. His parents, Ed and Janice, are proud of him and support his choice to enroll in the academy. His grandfather, John Harris, was a career sailor in the Navy and served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
“We chose to move to Ramona when Stuart was 3 because of the community pride and unity and the school system,” said his father Ed. “Stuart was exposed to many great people and teachers and that helped him tremendously.”
Corbett probably will not be able to read this article for six weeks. He is serving in basic training affectionately referred to as “beast” by the cadets. During “beast,” cadets learn military customs and courtesies, proper wear of the uniform, drill and ceremony, study military knowledge and undergo rigorous physical training and complete a program in field encampment environment. Upon completion of basics, cadets receive their fourth class shoulder boards, take the Honor Oath and are formally accepted as members of the Cadet Wing.
Upon graduation from USAFA, cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force.
The Ramona Sentinel congratulates Stuart Corbett and wishes him the best.