Testimonials from Falcon Scholars

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Randolph-Macon Academy welcomed its first Falcon Foundation Scholars in the fall of 2012. Since then, R-MA has welcomed more than forty Scholars into its community. Below are some of their thoughts of the Falcon Foundation program at R-MA.

To receive The Falcon Foundation scholarship was a true blessing. Immediately after receiving the great news I had done research on all the prep schools, and R-MA stood out the most to me. I am very happy with my choice, I have grown mentally, spiritually and physically. From the very first day we were all held to new standards and were met with challenges. By overcoming the obstacles we were able to grow individually and as a unit. The memories and friends I have made here will never be forgotten. I am fully confident in my ability to excel at USAFA and bring pride to being an R-MA Falcon.

Rafael Maldonado 
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


My year at R-MA has been one of the most memorable years of my life. This is solely due to the camaraderie that I share amongst the other Falcons who I can now call my own separate family. Being a Falcon at R-MA is no easy task; however, it is definitely a rewarding one. Fighting through the tough physical training while keeping up with the academic coursework has been a challenge that will prepare you for the rigorous environment at USAFA.

As a Flight Adjutant at R-MA, I can lead a small group of motivated cadets into parades and flight competitions. As a Falcon, I am able to be a role model for the whole corps of cadets here at R-MA. This is an incredible opportunity to learn and experience great leadership qualities that I will be able to use as an officer within the Air Force. After one year at R-MA, I can now say confidently that I am prepared for whatever USAFA will throw at me in the following years.

Ryan Messer 
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


Being a Falcon Scholar here has helped me grow both mentally and physically. I am in the best shape of my life because of the constant workouts we do. Furthermore, being a Falcon has shown me the importance of a team and trusting in that team. I believe this school has prepared me very well for the challenges to come at the Academy.

Ryan Hidalgo 
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


While some people may have been unsure about accepting their Falcon Foundation Scholarship, I was eager from the moment I opened the letter. What I didn’t realize going into this year, was how much Randolph-Macon Academy would push my weaknesses. It’s the first time in eighteen years that you are forced to work with a group of people who have the exact same goal as you, and instantly they become family. With every struggle that I faced, I found there were resources everywhere I looked to help me overcome them. Knowing that I have a support system of upperclassmen with me at the United States Air Force Academy will be a priceless resource that you cannot get when arriving there straight from high school.

Being at Randolph-Macon Academy has created a sense of independence. You rely on the Falcons, but you learn so much about yourself, your values, and your limits on the way. This year has been a year of adjusting to the challenges and pain, while also finding out what you can give to a group of eight kids who come from such diverse backgrounds. I am excited to finish this journey and proud to call this place, and these people, home!

Elizabeth Cassidy 
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


To me, coming to Randolph-Macon Academy was an acceptance of a challenge. I had the opportunity to attend almost any college in the nation on a full ride because of my NROTC scholarship. Although I almost chose that offer, I am proud and thankful I accepted the Falcon Scholarship over that one. I knew it would be more difficult to attend a service academy. I knew that it meant not going directly into college like the rest of my peers. I knew that this year would be one of my toughest years ever and believe me it did not disappoint. However, this year at Randolph-Macon Academy has been one of the most transformative periods of time in my life. I have never been more in shape mentally and physically.

I come from an area that is not known for its academic shrewdness. I have struggled through the majority of this year catching up to the other falcons. Yet, because my drive and motivation to succeed is so large I have continued to prove my worth. I believe that it is this same drive and motivation that will make me successful at the United States Air Force Academy. Similarly, Randolph-Macon Academy has given me a head start that will benefit me greatly at the United States Air Force Academy. I have learned a deep understanding in classes that I would have definitely struggled with at the United States Air Force Academy. I have perfected a routine that works for me and keeps me organized and on top of my work. I have strengthened my body through workouts that would seem unorthodox to anyone outside of the Randolph-Macon Academy falcons. These are simply a few examples of how Randolph-Macon Academy has successfully transitioned me into an appointee of the United States Air Force Academy.

Blaze Williams 
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


R-MA is perfect for those looking to mature before attending USAFA. Coming here is not the easy path, but it is the path that is worth it. The training environment has allowed me to develop closer to the end goal of becoming a United States Air Force Officer. I can truly say that I am thankful for the change I have seen in myself since being here and will always remember my time at R-MA.

Sam Wolf 
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


Upon receiving my Falcon Scholarship I immediately browsed through the prep school options and came across Randolph-Macon Academy. I was drawn by the fact that it is the only Air Force oriented prep school and has a flight program. Since I live close by to Virginia I was able to tour the campus and thoroughly enjoyed the environment, staff, and cadets. Interestingly enough, prior to receiving the Falcon Scholarship, I thought I was ready for the rigor and demands of life at the Air Force Academy. From the moment I stepped onto R-MA’s campus then to now, day by day, I truly believe that I am more prepared than ever.

Before arriving to R-MA I knew very little about military drill, the rank system, Air Force knowledge, as well as the proper customs and courtesies. Here at R-MA, I am ranked as a Cadet Officer on Cadre and in charge of an Air Force Junior ROTC flight. None of the other prep schools give Falcons this opportunity. I have learned to lead and set the standards for new and returning cadets, much different than any leadership position I have had before. In doing so I have grown an appreciation and admiration for wearing the uniform and what the Air Force has to offer. My course load consists of prerequisite classes exemplified by the Academy and my physical training is immensely challenging and I am proud to say I am in the best shape I have ever been. 

Kylie Haynie 
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


The Falcon program at R-MA has genuinely changed my life. I have grown physically, mentally, and intellectually through the amazing mentors and staff at the school. I was challenged from the moment I stepped on campus and have grown drastically in the past six months. My goal of attending USAFA was always a focal point of physical training sessions and discussions with influential retired air force faculty. I feel so much more comfortable knowing that I am prepared to the best of my ability going into USAFA this summer. I feel stronger, motivated, and ready to take on anything the Air Force Academy needs of me. 

Camryn Camarata
R-MA Falcon Scholar '20
U.S. Air Force Academy '24


Sean was one of seven Falcon Scholars at Randolph-Macon Academy during the 2016-17 school year. He successfully obtained an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.I am nothing like the introvert I was in the beginning. Although I prefer solitude and quiet over any situation, I enjoy having company.  I now understand that I do not have to go through life and make my dreams reality alone, for with others there, I can do things I could not accomplish alone, and I certainly will not always take everything along the way upon myself.  

I believe that the training Mr. Walker volunteers himself to help with has made most of my time here special, and then some.  I enjoy physical training, because...I have more self-confidence, higher physical standards for myself, and a greater sense of accomplishment when I complete the relatively harder training sessions.  If I can do all of the training, then I can do even harder physical activities later on.  

The training, like almost everything else here, is all mandatory for me: schoolwork or studying, cleaning my room, the training, etc.  It all makes me who I am.  I like the mandatory fun, merely because it is fun and important to me.  I know that if I can do all of those things, and also take care of others, keep a positive and fun attitude, and contribute to the group as a cadet officer, then I am certainly able to do simple things more easily.

Sean Freeman
R-MA Falcon Scholar '17
U.S. Air Force Academy '21
 


Martin successfully completed the Falcon Scholar program at Randolph-Macon Academy and earned an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. After going through this year I will be able to excel in the physical fitness aspect of the Academy. On top of the actual workouts we had, Mr. Walker was able to teach us different things that we will need to be able to know or handle during BCT such as: answering questions in formation, standing at attention during a briefing, studying Air Force history and other things likely to be found in the “Contrails” at the Academy. 

Being a part of the Falcons here has reinforced to me the importance of putting needs of a greater good before my own. I had this characteristic before, but it has grown and become stronger since coming here. Teamwork and selflessness are important aspects of the military and what it takes to be a good officer. I have learned many lessons while at R-MA and some I am sure I have yet to realize, so I am grateful for this experience.  

Martin Huffman
R-MA Falcon Scholar '17
U.S. Air Force Academy '21
 

 


R-MA has enhanced my professional military proficiency skills significantly through world class military and leadership hands-on experience. The leadership roles and activities at R-MA allowed me the opportunity to actively demonstrate my skill sets as well as improve my confidence and ability to lead. The faculty pushed me to new heights and helped nurture my career goal to be a pilot through ground school taught by professional flight instructors. 

R-MA has made me better prepared for USAFA in terms of time management, leadership, and physical excellence. I will take my collection of newfound abilities and reinforced knowledge over the last 12 months at R-MA with me to USAFA; giving me an incredible advantage over my peers and a clear pathway for success.

Anthony Vaccaro
R-MA Falcon Scholar '15
U.S. Air Force Academy '19

 


Getting to know people with a comprehensive experience in the Air Force and learning from them has definitely benefited me the most while being here. I’ve learned the basics of what it takes to serve in the Air Force and look forward to continue growing. 

Being surrounded by people who are more than willing to help you and care for you is something that makes R-MA special.

 

David Warfel
R-MA Falcon Scholar '15
U.S. Air Force Academy '19

 


 

The parts of R-MA that have benefited me the most were the flying program/ground school, sports/working out and getting used to life that is similar to life at USAFA. This year has made me a lot more confident going into USAFA.

I have gotten bigger and stronger physically. I have gained more confidence in myself.
What has made my time here special were the friendships I made and the people I met.

Michael Grieg
R-MA Falcon Scholar '15
U.S. Air Force Academy '19

 

 


The staff has benefited me most by instilling me with their knowledge and helping my study habits. Their advice and wisdom have helped me feel more confident in my upcoming years at the academy.

I have grown most noticeably in my physical stature, as well as intellectually thanks to the marvelous teaching staff.

The Falcons and flying have helped my time here pass quickly and made it a special year.

 

Jeff Wilson
R-MA Falcon Scholar '15
U.S. Air Force Academy '19

 


Naji, a Falcon Scholar at R-MA for the 2013-14 school year. The one thing I’m going to remember most are the teachers and people here. In public school you just see your teachers in classes. Here, you see them on the weekends, at lunch, in the evenings. You know about their lives and they know about yours. It’s more of an adult relationship.

Being in high school, I was a leader in football, and I was voted senior class president. But being in cadre here is different. You’re in a position to pass on guidance. It’s more of a leadership experience than anything in high school.

I loved being away from home and gaining that independence.

Naji Bseiso
R-MA Falcon Scholar '14
U.S. Air Force Academy '18

 


Jewel, a Falcon Scholar at R-MA for the 2013-14 school year.One of the great benefits was coming into an Air Force JROTC environment and being able to learn the terms and how to put on the uniform and drill. It makes me realize how much easier going to the Academy will be, because there will be one less thing to worry about.

I like the classes a lot, specifically retaking math classes. Math has always been easy for me, but it’s nice to have that reinforcement. It’s good that they’re making me take physics because I never took that in high school. I hated general chemistry in high school and never thought I would like it. Now I love AP Chemistry, especially with these teachers. The teachers are very good here.

If I had to choose one high point, one reason I’m glad I came here, it would be the teachers. They are great. They care more, they go more in-depth, and they’re more personal because the classes are so much smaller. In my previous school, the teachers ignored me because I’m quiet. As long as I got good grades and behaved, they didn’t force me to participate. Here, the teachers know me even if I have good grades. They focus on you more.

Jewel Davidson
R-MA Falcon Scholar '14
U.S. Air Force Academy '18

 


Jordan was one of five Falcon Scholars enrolled at Randolph-Macon Academy in 2013-14.I came here because this was the only Falcon Foundation School that was Air Force, and it had a flight program. Plus, my aunt and uncle live an hour away, in Manassas.

This year has really taught me more time management than I already had. It’s beneficial as I head to the Air Force Academy to get used to that kind of thing, and to get used to wearing the uniform.

I hadn’t taken chemistry since my junior year of high school, so taking that class was like knocking off the rust. Even though I had taken calculus in high school, with Mr. Barr, I had a good refresher of math, even some I hadn’t taken or remembered since freshman year.

I enjoyed the year here. It was really nice. I got to meet other people who are going to the Academy. The general is a really nice guy, I learned a lot from him. I feel like I’m way more prepared. Going through this program and the academics gives you a lot more confidence. It was a great year, great learning experience. I enjoyed it.

Jordan Wiggins
R-MA Falcon Scholar '14
U.S. Air Force Academy '18

 


Patrick Coleman is one of five Falcon Foundation Scholars who attended Randolph-Macon Academy and received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

If I'd gone to one of the Army schools I would have had to learn everything and then unlearn it at the Air Force Academy. Being an Air Force school, the environment [at R-MA] allowed us to get a lot more views and opinions about the Air Force. There were a lot of people who have experience in the Air Force and experience with the Air Force Academy’s application process. We had access to a unique set of skills and knowledge here.

I came from a medium-sized school of about 1100 or 1200 students. Here, with fewer than 300 students [in the Upper School], everyone knows what is going on. There are tons of people who care. The teachers let our mentor [Maj General Maury Forsyth, USAF Ret] know if we were struggling or if we’d done well. There’s a more direct line of communication here. It’s more of a family environment that fosters our learning and success.

Patrick Coleman
R-MA Falcon Scholar '14
U.S. Air Force Academy '18

 

 


Matthew was a Falcon Scholar at Randolph-Macon Academy during the 2013-14 school year. He is also a member of the Air Force Academy Class of 2018.I’m from a small town in Illinois—the sign at the town line says “Population 750” and I lived outside of town. My graduating class was 26 students. Going from that to R-MA, the size wasn’t a big deal. I made a lot of good friends, especially during cadre camp. 

Going from public to private was difficult. I was used to doing whatever when I got home; in private school you don’t have too much time. Here the routine is different, but that’s good because it’s going to be more structured at the Air Force Academy.

R-MA prepared me for the classes I’m going to take next year, and a lot with military protocols and procedures, as far as the marching and commands. It’s definitely been a different experience, but it’s been good. How many people get to go to school and learn from a two-star general and colonels?  

Matthew Sefton
R-MA Falcon Scholar '14
U.S. Air Force Academy '18

 

 

 


 

Carissa successfully earned an Air Force Academy appointment after completing a Falcon Foundation postgraduate year at Randolph-Macon Academy.During the summer of 2012, I found out I had received a Falcon Scholarship, meaning I could attend any Air Force Academy prep school.  I had received a full-ride ROTC Scholarship to JMU so I was hesitant to accept the Falcon Scholarship.  After researching all of the prep schools, I knew if I was going to choose any, I would go to Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA).  It was the only preparatory school with a flight program and I know I want to become a pilot.  R-MA had never had a Falcon Foundation program before, I was hesitant to give up my full ride at JMU to attend this prep school.  I went to visit the campus and after meeting the Commandant, Dean of Academics, the Dean of Admissions, and the President, General Hobgood, I was 80% sure I wanted to go there. 

The atmosphere was different from a regular school.  The students were focused and the teachers were passionate about their success.  After I attended R-MA’s graduation in 2012, I was sold.  Their graduation was a lot more organized than mine had been.  The students looked classy and professional in their uniforms.  There was a 100% college acceptance rate.  I knew if I went to R-MA, I would be one step closer to reaching my dreams as a pilot.  An additional year of academic prep never hurts.  I really needed the additional focus on math and science.  The math teacher here is by far the best one in the world.  After taking his class, I feel prepared for the rigorous academics the USAFA is going to throw at me. 

Going to a prep school was the hardest decision I ever made but it was the right one for my future.  I got accepted to the USAFA on Valentine’s Day.  It was by far the best gift I had ever received.  All of R-MA was happy for me and shook my hand or hugged me.  This is a supportive school that wants the students to excel in life.  R-MA has humbled me by strengthening my leadership skills and building my character.  I’m glad I got to be a part of this compassionate family!

Carissa Vaccaro
R-MA Falcon Scholar '13
U.S. Air Force Academy '17

 


 

It was a tough break when I was initially rejected from the United States Air Force Academy.  Naturally, I was honored and excited to be offered a Falcon Foundation scholarship. Of all the schools that I could have selected, Randolph-Macon stood out because it was the only school on the list to offer both an Air Force JROTC program and the opportunity to fly.

Like many others, my main career goal in the Air Force is to become a pilot. I have a special passion for flying, and Randolph-Macon has given me the chance to realize my dreams a few years early. The flight program has made it easy for me to take regular lessons in the school-owned Cessna 172’s and keep up with all my normal classes at the same time.

George Beals was accepted to the Air Force Academy after spending a year at Randolph-Macon Academy as a Falcon Foundation scholar.Before coming to Randolph-Macon, I was very active in an Air Force cadet program called the Civil Air Patrol, and I knew that choosing a school with a similar cadet program would help immensely with the initial adjustment to Academy life. The skills and knowledge gained from the program will make the transition to life at the Air Force Academy much smoother than going straight in from civilian life. The AFJROTC program at Randolph-Macon teaches skills essential to any military cadet, such as how to properly salute, march in formation, care for a uniform, keep a tidy room, and most importantly, how to effectively manage one’s time.

After arriving at Randolph-Macon, I quickly learned that there was more to what the school offered than flying and marching. The specially-designed curriculum developed specifically for the Falcon Scholars focuses on solidifying the students’ academic foundations in subjects such as mathematics, English, and chemistry that prove to be very challenging for cadets during their early years at the Air Force Academy. The teachers are very well-versed in their subjects and very capable of preparing their students for a continued education after high school.

Everything at Randolph-Macon focuses on preparing its students for whatever path they choose to pursue after graduation, whether it is a military career or a civilian college education.  It was a great choice for me!

George Beals
R-MA Falcon Scholar '13
U.S. Air Force Academy '17