Inderkum High’s Tyler Christensen was notified today of his selection to the U.S. Air Force Academy, making him the first known Tiger student to be accepted by the world-class educational institution that sets the stage for careers as Air Force officers.
“I’m just really very happy and relieved to have gotten in,” said Tyler, a soft-spoken 18-year-old who has a 4.6 grade point average, will graduate this year with an International Baccalaureate diploma, and has a lengthy track record of athletic success and community service.
Today’s notification is worth $416,000 to Tyler – that’s the cost of an Air Force Academy education, which he will receive free in return for a commitment to serve in the Air Force after graduation, initially as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Tyler was nominated for the academy by Congresswoman Doris Matsui. Prospective students cannot even apply without such a nomination, generally from a member of Congress or the U.S. President or Vice President. He plans to study engineering in the Air Force – and he’s leaning toward civil engineering, he said.
“He’s an all-around great kid, not one dimensional by any means,” Principal Dan Motherspaw said. “Great student, great community involvement, great athlete, great family. He’s awesome – very humble as well.”
Tyler joins a long line of family members willing to defend their country. His father served and his sister currently serves in the Army Reserves; his maternal grandfather earned two Bronze Stars in the Air Force; and his uncle and paternal grandfather served in the Navy, he said.
“In my family, there’s always been a sense of patriotism and service to country,” he said.
Tyler said he fell in love with the Air Force Academy during a visit to the Colorado campus last summer. “I kind of got the feeling that it’s where I need to be and all the work I’ve done so far was pointing me in that direction,” he said.
At Inderkum, Tyler has starred on both the soccer and cross country teams, earning all-Tri County Conference honors in each sport, either as a junior or senior. He also was captain and Most Valuable Player of this year’s Tiger soccer team.
Tyler’s community service has included organizing a 5k community fun run to raise money for Inderkum’s Safe and Sober Grad Night last year, and traveling with a church group for each of the past three years to build a house for a needy family in Mexico. Tyler currently volunteers at the Sacramento County Food Bank and Family Services.
Graduating from Inderkum’s IB Diploma Programme also is a sterling achievement. The two-year course of study is designed to create disciplined, responsible and well-rounded graduates by requiring advanced study in languages, mathematics, history, art, and social and natural sciences. Participants are required to do extensive writing covering every subject area, complete in-depth research designed to prepare them for college-level research, and participate in projects involving creativity, action and service.
Will it be hard to leave Sacramento? “I think I’m ready,” Tyler said. “I think it’s going to be a major adjustment, but I know I’m going in with 1,200 cadets who will be making the same adjustment. It’s nice to be part of that group.”