Q&A: Clare Sakovich ’11, sophomore at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado

Q&A: Clare Sakovich '11, sophomore at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado

[lightbox type=”image” title=”Clare Sakovich ’11” href=”” youtube_id=”” vimeo_id=””][nggallery id=66][/lightbox]

Q: How did you first decide that you were interested in a military academy?

A: Pretty much my entire Hockaday career I wanted to be an astronaut. The best places to do that are definitely the service academies. If you look at the astronaut core, it’s made up of almost half people who went to the service academies. So that’s definitely something that I took to immediately because, I mean, astronautical engineering- you can’t study that anywhere else. That’s my major here.

I’ve always wanted to do something where I could have a leadership role and really impact people and the military kind of gives that to me, like I’m going to graduate from here in three years and I’m going to be able to go out and immediately have a job where I’m in charge of who knows how many people… It’s an immediate leadership opportunity, I love that idea, being able to lead people, being able to lead our country as well.

Q: What is it about being an astronaut that inspires you?

A: Well, I actually took an interest in becoming an astronaut kind of early on, about fifth grade, it was when the Columbia disaster happened. Kind of odd, but I mean I kind of saw that and thought, “hey, if that’s something people are willing to die for, it’s got to be worth something.” Got interested in space, started going to space camp in Hudson, Ala., did a lot of work at NASA over my summers, that kind of thing. Just really fell in love with the astronaut corps and learning about space and human exploration of space.

Q: How does reduced Government Funding to NASA affect your plans?

A: Right now, it’s kind of all up in the air, don’t really know what’s going to be happening in the next 5, 10 years, but, I mean, I’m perfectly happy with having a very solid military career as well. There’s a lot of space here in the Air Force, I mean, our mission is to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace. So space is a huge part of the Air Force as well so if I have to stay here and work on satellite control or work on launch vehicles, that kind of thing, I really wouldn’t have a problem with it.

Q: Would you say you are interested in science more than other subjects?

Definitely. I mean, to Hockaday girls, when I was at Hockaday, my freshman year physics teacher was Mr. Pete Lohstreter, maybe you guys kinda know him. He was also my teacher my senior year of high school when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was a huge inspiration to me in my time at Hockaday. He kept me really interested in space and science and that kind of thing. We kept each other up to date on like space shuttle launches, that kind of thing. It was awesome. Just all the opportunities that Hockaday gave me in science has helped me to get where I am now.

Q: Would you recommend this path to a Hockadaisy who is interested in science?

A: Oh yes, definitely. The thing is that here at the academy, at all the academies like Army, Navy, Air Force, you get a bachelors of science degree regardless of what your major is, so like you could be an English major with a bachelors of science because we take so many engineering classes just in general. So if you like science and math, this is definitely the place to come.

Q: What has life at a service academy been like?

A: It is very different from Hockaday and very similar to Hockaday, I have found, actually. Because obviously we have to wear uniforms every day, so I mean I’m about that life, I’ve done that forever, and obviously its 80% guys here so that’s a huge difference, but I mean all the people around you are your best friends. You go through your freshman year, and its not the best time… its meant to be difficult. You’re basically doing knowledge tests every week, you’re training every week, like doing physical training, that kind of thing, and then you do 6 weeks of basic training before you even begin the academic year your freshman year… So you go through your freshman year. In March, you get recognized after all the bad stuff that you’ve gone through your freshman year, like not being able to wear your backpack, not being able to talk whenever you want to talk, it all ends in March in this culmination of three days called Recognition. All I can say about that is that it is the worst time of your life and it’s the best time of your life, and after its over, you are pretty much a normal cadet again, like you can talk to whoever you want to, you can wear your normal clothes, you can wear your backpack, it’s a great time. And so after that, life has been totally different here. Like I have friends in all the classes, like I have a leadership role this year: I get to be a mentor to a freshman and I get to work on different staff. I’m also working on the satellite program that we have here. I’m the superintendent for that so I’m the highest ranking sophomore in charge of that program, so it’s a lot of work but its definitely worth it. Hockaday definitely taught me to be busy.

Q: Is there any difference in how you are treated as a female?

A: Honestly, I think things have gotten a lot better from the stereotype of what people believe the service academy to be like, just because I’ve come here and I have not encountered that many problems. I have held my own weight. I’ve done what I’ve had to do and I’ve proved myself as a worthy cadet, so guys don’t really look down on me too much here. I mean sometimes its occasional that guys will be like “oh, you’re a girl, you can’t do this.” Our standards are different for PT test and guys are like “oh, but yours are easier.” Its just little things like that. But in general there’s no discrimination or anything; everyone is friends here. They’re my brothers, I’m their sister – a family.

Q: What do you do for fun? Do you have a lot of free time?

A: We have different kinds of weekends, really. There are blue weekends which are like free weekends so we can pretty much go out and do what we want to do, and then there are silver weekends which means that our Friday and Saturday will be taken up by training, so we’ll just have Sunday off, which those are kind of the stressful weekends because we still have school and stuff, but in our free time we’re allowed to leave, go to Colorado springs, go to Denver if we want to, in the winter people go out and ski. There’s lots of things to do around here, like there’s this dancing club that meets here on Fridays and Saturdays and like movies are playing everywhere, that kind of thing.

Q: Do you have any advice to any Hockadaisies that are considering service academies, especially Air Force?

A: If they’re considering going to a service academy, you definitely need to be well-rounded. You need to have your athletics down, you need to have your academics down, and you need to be able to follow rules. If you want to lead people and if you feel like you are an organized person who can hold their own in situations academically or athletically than service academies are for you.

– Emily Wechsler
Photos provided by Clare Sakovich