RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph high school senior Erik Jensen has been accepted to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; a school that ranks in the top 30 nationwide in terms of lowest acceptance rates. Jensen intends to study Aeronautical Engineering and Specialized flight training.
“I plan to have a career in the Air Force as a pilot while still using the degree that I receive from the Academy,” said Jensen. “I want to protect my country that has given me an amazing childhood, so I can give other children the same opportunity.”
Jensen clearly is an ambitious kid; not many teenagers earn their pilots license, let alone do that in high school before they even get their drivers’ license.
“My uncle is a pilot, he took me up in his plane and I immediately fell in love with it,” said Jensen. “I want to attend Air Force Academy because I think everyone has a duty to serve their country and I want to fly, and I can accomplish both of these goals by going to the academy.”
With a strong desire to learn to fly, but being too young to drive, Jensen enrolled his parents for rides to and from small local airports to learn how to fly.
“We took many trips to the airport (Caldwell and Morristown) for lessons, including every Thursday night ground school,” said Erik’s father David Jensen. “After 60 hours of instruction Erik was able to solo the airplane by himself at the age of 16. After ten solo hours close to the airport, he did his first solo flight from Caldwell New Jersey to Allentown Pennsylvania and back.”
But his ambitions didn’t end there. Jensen has already shown an innate desire to help others, going above and beyond the typical volunteer service many teenagers participate in.
“I took a Mission Trip to Paintsville Kentucky, where I helped repair houses,” said Jensen. “I have participated in ‘Bridges’, making meals and basic necessity bags for the poor, helped at Meals on Wheels, and I volunteer at ‘Special Parents’ two times a year, where I take care of special needs children while their parents go out for lunch.”
All that, while earning a 4.32 GPA and collecting eight varsity letters in Wrestling, Cross Country and Lacrosse, including being named captain in the first two.
“Erik is an outstanding leader with a tremendous work ethic; one of those rare young men that lead by example and put his teammates interests before his own,” said RHS wrestling coach Mike Suk. “His high moral character is evident every day in the decisions he makes and the way he carries himself, he will make an outstanding addition to the United States Air Force academy.”
The application / acceptance procedure at Air Force Academy is among the most rigorous and difficult of any school in the country. Once Jensen’s “Pre-Application” was approved, the lengthy process of the formal application began.
Three essays, ACT and SAT scores, a list of all sports participated in, varsity letters earned, and election of Captain in any of them was the beginning. Extra-curricular activities and the above mentioned volunteer work were a big part of gaining acceptance. Jensen also had to provide three letters of recommendation from specific people that the Academy requested.
While much of that may sound like a typical application process, there was more. Jensen also had to secure a congressional nomination.
Jensen was required to submit multiple essays and letters of recommendation in an attempt to secure an interview with a congressman or senator.
Jensen secured interviews with NJ Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Senator Menendez. Two weeks after meeting with Frelinghuysen, a letter arrived from the congressman’s office, stating he was giving Jensen the congressional nomination for the Air Force Academy.
An interview with a major from the Air Force Academy, and a two day department of defense physical fitness test followed. The physical is an extensive process, including lengthy color testing of the eyes where more than half of the applicants fail for eye color deficiencies.
“It feels ‘unreal’ to have my hard work payoff,” Jensen said. “I know that this is a great honor so I need to keep working hard. It makes me appreciate all the chances and opportunities given to me as well as all the people that helped me achieve my goal.”
Jensen is also mature enough to know that he didn’t get to where he is all by himself.
“I want to thank my uncle, Jack Murray, my flight instructor Captain Stephen Lind, Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, Randolph councilman James Loveys, my teachers Mr. Douglas, Ms. Castrorao, My coaches Michael Suk, Nicholas Albanito and Coach Skoldberg,” said Jensen. “I also want to thank my brother Christian for being a great role model and my sister Leanne for always being there for me; but most of all my parents, who taught me right from wrong in the beginning and supported me in everything I have done.”