AHS grad faces challenges, finds honor

Many high school graduates are eager to leave home and explore newly found freedom with no restrictions. Every once in a while, a few pop out that wish to do the opposite – join the Air Force Academy. Zach Borg, Ames High graduate of 2007, weighs the advantages, urges students to be confident, and describes his experiences at the United States Air Force Academy. “The funny thing is, I never really considered the AFA to be a viable option until late fall of my senior year,” he said, explaining why the Air Force Academy (AFA) was his school of choice. Good professors, wide variety of courses, and free tuition are a great combination. Borg also likes knowing he will have no trouble finding work in the future. “The good job afterward was also a large part of the draw,” he said. At AFA, professors are geared to educate, always available to help out and interact with students. “The academics are top notch,” he said. “They try really hard to make themselves available throughout the entire day,” he said. Academy life is strict and prompt. Waking up at 6 am daily, Borg’s activities are divided up to the minute – everything always sticks to schedule. Freshmen are especially constricted. They must earn their privileges, and receive special training from upperclassmen. Everyone must go to mandatory breakfast, and after a morning of classes, gather back together at noon and march to lunch. Borg put himself on the line by choosing to live in the new and isolated environment. Though he felt nervous at first, he is now glad he took the risk. “Now that I’ve been at the Academy for awhile, I can confidently say who I am has changed for the better,” he said. “I’ve begun to see why making self-sacrifices is so important to maintaining the ideals this country represents. Everyday soldiers make sacrifices to defend our freedoms. In a way, it’s exciting to know that I too have a part in that.” The Academy is a transforming institution. It challenges students by putting them into a situation they are unfamiliar with and forcing them to deal with values and principles that America is rooted in. “I’ve really learned what it means to have integrity and honor. Integrity means everything here at the academy. People are constantly kicked out because of ‘honor cases.’ This means that someone was caught lying, cheating, or stealing, and therefore must be brought up before a court of peers.” The regimen prohibits freshmen from listening to music, watching TV, and socializing with upperclassmen. Being a freshman is hard, but “every one of us is going through the same difficulties, so in a way it connects us all,” Borg said. He also claims to know only 1/40 of his class of 1200, but isn’t too discouraged, knowing things will play themselves out with time. Borg reminisces on his days at Ames High, when his time was spent running cross country, “the best sport Ames High has to offer,” playing ultimate frisbee, and being with friends. “College can be very similar or it can be completely different,” Borg said. His words of wisdom for seniors: “When the time comes to choose which school is right for you, make a confident decision and leave no question in your mind that it is the best choice.”