A Christmas wish came true for Lakeview High School student Simon Janssen in the form of three nominations by state officials, endorsing Janssen for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The high school senior is now waiting to hear if he’ll be accepted to the academy. Janssen will find out by either late January or the middle of February, he said.
Janssen, 17, said he’s filled out all the requirements in his application for the Air Force Academy with probably the most difficult one being the nomination.
“I feel like I have a very good chance but I can’t say anything for sure,” Janssen said. “But I’m really hopeful.”
The first nomination arrived a couple of days before Christmas from U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Janssen said the nomination was like “an early Christmas present.”
Not long after, Sen. Deb Fischer’s recommendation arrived on Christmas Eve and then Sen. Ben Sasse’s on Christmas Day.
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“It was nice to have all three before the New Year,” Janssen said.
Sasse praised Janssen in a press release, announcing his nomination of the Lakeview student.
“This young Nebraskan exemplifies why Nebraska is home to the Good Life,” Sasse said, in a provided statement. “… Nebraska is proud of our young leaders -- we are excited to see the good they do and are grateful for the work they will put into serving our nation.”
Fischer also said in a press release that Janssen has shown “hard work, leadership, and dedication."
"I am confident that (Janssen) will serve our great nation with honor and make Nebraska proud," Fischer said, in a provided statement.
Janssen said he first got an inkling of joining the Air Force back in the eighth grade when he visited the Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He said while he wasn’t looking for a military career then, he was enticed to join after learning about the experience and benefits of serving in the Air Force.
“Really at that point, in my head, I said, ‘This is what I want to do. I’m going to achieve this goal,’” Janssen said. “It is a pretty hard institution to get into.”
If appointed, Janssen would be joining his brother, Ben, who started at the academy last year. Janssen said also his sister’s fiancé is also in the Air Force. Additionally, he has a couple of cousins in the U.S. Air National Guard.
During his years at Lakeview, Janssen has been involved in several activities at the high school and throughout the community.
He’s the Habitat for Humanity of Columbus Campus Committee founding president. The committee includes students from Lakeview, Scotus Central Catholic, Nebraska Christian School and Columbus High School.
The teens help local families and their children. The committee typically does projects more geared toward the kids. They’ve built beds, a desk and provided gifts for the children.
Additionally, Janssen is in National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, student council, track and field and powerlifting.
Janssen said he hopes attending the Air Force Academy will allow him to become an engineer and Air Force pilot. He said the Academy offers both avenues -- the institution also has a strong engineering program in addition to teaching cadets on how to fly.
“All those things drew me in,” Janssen said. “That’s why the Air Force Academy is my primary goal.”
Andrew Kiser is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.