The Sky is the Limit for Mai Le

United States Air Force Academy Admissions Liaison Officer Colonel Tracey Meck presented Mai Le with the appointment to the academy.
United States Air Force Academy Admissions Liaison Officer Colonel Tracey Meck presented Mai Le with the appointment to the academy.

The sky is the limit for Mai Le, Ferndale High School Senior and Whatcom Community College Running Start student.

Mai received a full ride scholarship to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). At a ceremony held in May, USAFA Admissions Liaison Officer Colonel Tracey Meck presented Mai Le with the appointment to the academy.

Colonel Meck, in her speech about Mai, said, ” Mai is one of approximately 1,200 candidates who were offered an appointment this year. She is an exceptional student who achieved a 3.9 GPA while taking AP and Honors classes, as well as classes at Whatcom Community College. She earned varsity letters in both cross-country and track and field and is a talented orchestra musician. As a cadet in the Bellingham Civil Air Patrol she excelled in numerous leadership positions and attained the rank of Cadet 1Lt. Through her CAP squadron, she contributed countless hours of community service and earned numerous awards including Cadet of the Year in December 2015. Her experience in CAP helped fine-tune her impeccable character, strong leadership skills and desire to serve her country. An appointment to the academy is equivalent to being offered a full-ride 4-year scholarship to a top tier university with all expenses paid to include tuition, housing, food, books, medical and dental benefits, and a monthly basic paycheck.”

When we interviewed Mai, she told us she always felt a little uncomfortable and unsatisfied. She could not understand why she couldn’t connect with her peer community here in Ferndale. It was when her brother introduced her to the organization Civil Air Patrol (CAP) which is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Through this program, Mai found her niche. She became a cadet and discovered a passion for flying. “There are so many opportunities that a program like this offers and there are so many things that I have been a part of that are unique only to cadets and adults within this program. I accredit much of my growth, change and discovery to these special opportunities,” said Mai.

Originally, Mai planned to attend the University of Washington. That would have allowed her to have a summer lined up with fun activities. But she felt she wanted to get out of her comfort zone. “To me, going to UW is not a unique feat. After all, there are thousands and thousands of students who attend each year. The opportunity at USAFA is extraordinary and it is an experience unparalleled by any other. More importantly, I’m ready to face the unknown, and to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, because that’s where you learn and grow the most,” Mai added. Come June 29, Mai will be getting up bright and early as she begins intense basic training at the academy in Colorado. Following basic training, the academic year starts in August.

“What has inspired me? My fellow cadets that I’ve met through CAP and my brother. I want to embody his level of excellence and hard work, and through USAFA I am able to work towards this and maybe one day, I can come close to being a person of greatness like him,” said Mai.

The USAFA will offer academic rigor on par with the best institutions in the country.

Mai hopes to pursue a degree in astronomical engineering with a possible minor in French. In the future, she would like to work with space command to further space research and development. After successfully completing the four-year academic and leadership development program, Mai Le will graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

Many of Mai’s family members have been part of the military over the years—Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. However, Mai will be the first one to represent the Air Force.

This year, the USAFA celebrates its 70th birthday. The academy has made many contributions to our service’s legacy and history of breaking barriers, and advancing technology and innovation. Read more at


Ferndale High School Career Center Counselor Wendy Rice, 360.383.9363,
Ferndale High School Principal Jeff Gardner, 383.9243,
Director of Communications Tammy Bengen, 383.9207,