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USAF Academy

BHS grad Maggie Andersen got diploma early so she could attend Air Force Academy

By Jeanne Walton

The next chapter of Margaret "Maggie" Andersen’s life is clearly a result of a lifetime of hard work and dedication.

Andersen is a 2020 graduate of Batavia High School (BHS) and is the sole senior to have already received her diploma.

The certificate was conferred upon her early, last week, so that she could make it to the United States Air Force (USAF) Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., by June 25, where she will be preparing to begin six weeks of basic training. The BHS graduation is June 27. 

Andersen was apparently destined for USAF military service from an early age.  

Her grandfather served as a Captain in the USAF Strategic Air Command from 1964-1968. And her brother, Campbell Andersen, is a fourth-year cadet at USAF Academy, who's had a profound influence on her.

“He has shown me how much the Air Force can do for aspiring leaders,” (Maggie) Andersen said.

She's been a member of the Batavia Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) since the age of 12. CAP is a congressionally chartered, federally supported nonprofit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the USAF. 

“My involvement with CAP has motivated me to become more and see all of the good parts of serving my country,” Andersen said.

Her excellence in academics, outstanding athleticism and a very strong desire to take advantage of every opportunity presented, positioned her to be an exceptionally desirable candidate for entrance as a cadet into the USAF Academy.  

“It takes a lot of effort to apply and be accepted to the academy,” said Andersen’s USAF liaison officer, Steven Sharpe.  

Candidates must be very involved in their community and athletics, at a leadership level. They must perform community service work, and their academic performance should be superior.

“The Air Force is seeking well-rounded leaders, and Maggie is very well-rounded,” Sharpe said. 

“She has put herself in a position to succeed, it would be hard for the Air Force to refuse her entrance.”

The application process also requires a nomination from a member of Congress, the President or the Vice President of the United States.  

With the resignation of Congressman Chris Collins, the local district did not have a Congressional representative at the time of Andersen’s nomination application. So she was nominated by members of the USAF Academy along with the staff that was left to handle the 27th Congressional District’s business. 

As a cadet, Andersen plans to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in either Physics or Mathematics. She will likely then fulfill her commitment of five years of service to the Air Force doing research.  

Andersen attributes her success to her parents who told their children to “work hard and open every door” as they were growing up. 

“I think they took it to heart," said her mother, Kristine Andersen, adding “I am really proud of Maggie. She’s had a full life of music, sports, art, and school, while she has still been a kid. She’s worked hard to achieve this, and it’s great that she’s having a great life.” 

Little sister proudly admits to following in big brother's footsteps.

“Campbell's example, and success at the Academy, have been especially inspiring,” she said.

The Batavia School District and auxiliary programs like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and ACE (Achieving a College Education) have also had a huge impact on her.  

“These programs have given me the drive that the Academy looks for when they are making appointments,” Andersen said.

It is now clear to her how much one can accomplish by simply taking advantage of opportunity.

“I hope that more Batavia students go this route after learning about how they can get a first-class education through this program," said the newly minted cadet. "With tuition payment and a stipend, cadets can focus on their performance across the board.”

“I think anyone can do what my brother and I have done…they should take every chance to open every door and walk through it.”

Top inset photo, from left: Campbell Andersen, Maggie Andersen, and their mother, Kristine Andersen.

Bottom right inset photo: The siblings -- Maggie and Campbell Andersen.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

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