Air Force ROTC cadets win national internships, scholarships

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Cadets Samantha Bleykhman '19, Eric Sanderson '19, and John Slife '19 in Air Force ROTC uniform. Slife and Bleykhman received offers for competitive national internships, while Sanderson earned a scholarship to study abroad next year.

Two cadets in Yale’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) received offers for competitive national internships, and a third won an academic scholarship through the Arnold Air Society and Silver Wings (AAS/SW), sister organizations that support aerospace power and the development of civic leadership.

Cadets John Slife ‘19 and Samantha Bleykhman ‘19 received two of four national internships from the Air Force Association, and Cadet Eric Sanderson ‘19 won the Brigadier General Tom Mikolajcik Academic Scholarship.

“I was extremely proud of my cadets, but also unsurprised,” said John Swisher ’11, captain of AFROTC at Yale. “These cadets are incredibly high achievers, so whenever they apply for a competitive opportunity, I’m confident in their candidacy.”

Swisher added that there is “significant overlap” between what the Air Force seeks in officer candidates and what Yale values in students, such as leadership, academic achievement, and discipline. Cadets balance their ROTC schedule with a range of other on-campus activities.

“From environmental groups to rowing, Yale has been an enjoyable, productive experience, and I suppose those who read my application decided that my work during these past two years was considerable enough to earn the award,” said Sanderson, a global affairs major who is also enrolled in Yale’s energy studies program. Sanderson will use the Arnold Air Society scholarship to study in Ukraine and Oxford this summer. He also received a Boren scholarship — an initiative of the National Security Education Program — and will use it to study Russian language and political science at Daugavpils University in Latvia next year.

While Bleykhman ultimately accepted an engineering internship at Rhode Island-based KVH industries, Slife is looking forward to his summer in Washington, D.C., working on Air Force policy for the Mitchell Institute, an independent, nonpartisan policy research institute that focuses on issues related to national security and, specifically, the Air Force.

“[The internship] really interested me because it would introduce me to how policy is made in the Air Force and, as a future officer in the Air Force, this is valuable for me to know,” said Slife, who studies both political science and mechanical engineering. He hopes to have a career in national security policy within the Air Force.

Colonel Tom McCarthy, the commander of Yale’s AFROTC program, noted that “these are interesting and very involved individuals — there is a reason they were selected for the honors they have received.” McCarthy added that he is “extremely proud” because the cadets in the AFROTC program founded and run their own chapter of Arnold Air Society.

“Despite their youth, the extremely high quality of the chapter’s members (Yale ROTC students) make them formidable competitors when it comes to competing for national level leadership and developmental opportunities,” McCarthy said. “I could not be prouder of them.”

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