AFJROTC Flight Academy Scholarship Winners


Aubrey Anne Richards, Contributor

Marjorie Baumbach and Elian Castaneda, two juniors here at Bob Jones, received a coveted scholarship to the esteemed AFJROTC Flight Academy. This is a highly competitive program that as of 2021 only has 200 spots available to students across the United States. The program totals almost $22,000, including the actual course, transportations, and accommodations, but all of these fees are ultimately paid for by the U.S Military. It is an 8-weeks course held in the summer at various universities around the country. At the end of the course, the cadet will have earned a Private Pilot’s Certification. 

The program is helping create pilots to help fill the ever-growing demand for them in the U.S Military. It does not guarantee a spot in the military as a pilot, but it does give a jumpstart to future training. A pilot’s career is one of the least diverse professions with women making up less than 6% of the job. Minorities are representing less than 10%, but with this program, the Air Force is looking to change these numbers drastically. With this program, the number of new pilots is increasing by almost 1,100 every year with more than half of that number being female pilots added to the skies. 

Through the already stressful school year, these cadets studied for a chance at this opportunity. I talked to the two cadets who were chosen for this program. They both had emotional stories on how they prepared for results day. It is not over for them as they have not gotten to the actual training but have come a long way, sometimes with many tears. Baumbach recalls the day she found out about the results of the test. “I started crying; I wanted it so bad and worked hard for it. When Major Lacey told me I made it in I was just so happy that I couldn’t hold it in.” Castaneda had a different reaction when he received the news. “When I got the scholarship, I thought that only one of us was going to get the scholarship due to how few there were. I was positive Baumbach was going to get it over me, but to my surprise, we both got it. I was shocked at first and then got a bit teary-eyed. I was proud of her and myself for how hard we worked for it.”

To even be considered for the program, a student must be nominated by a teacher. According to Major Lacey,  “Both students are outstanding cadets.  Marjorie currently serves as the Inspector General for the cadet corps. Elian is a Group Commander.” 

These two will leave this summer to a select campus and learn personally about the profession they want to spend their lives in. They worked extremely hard to get here and had an amazing support system of former cadets and current JROTC members. Good luck, Marjorie and Elian!