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Ley-Han Soars Into Academy
Escalon High School senior Cassidy Ley-Han smiles and relaxes here but once she graduates and has a brief family vacation in June she will be off to Colorado Springs and the start of her military career at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Marg Jackson/The Times

It’s something she has always known she wanted to do.

And now Cassidy Ley-Han will get the chance.

The Escalon High School senior, grateful for the opportunity this country gave her father, wants to ‘pay it back’ by serving the United States. She has received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from Congressman Jerry McNerney.

“I applied for all three,” Ley-Han said of seeking appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, West Point and the Air Force Academy. As the Air Force was her first choice, she couldn’t be happier, even though she will be on a tight timeline come summer.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking, after I graduate I barely have two weeks, going for a summer vacation with my family, and I have to be in Colorado on June 30,” the senior said. “I always knew I wanted to go to an Academy.”

While she originally felt the Army and West Point would be the best fit, her older brother did not enjoy his experience there and that prompted Ley-Han to also reconsider. For the past two years, her goal has been to gain entrance into the Air Force Academy.

“Cassidy is extremely driven and intelligent. I think this is what has helped her achieve her dream of getting into the Air Force Academy,” said teacher and Escalon FFA Advisor Jennifer Terpstra. “She is a leader in our chapter and a leader amongst her peers. It is her no-nonsense approach that helps her organize and demand excellence from others.

“As our FFA chapter reporter and our Delta-Cal Section Vice President, Cassidy has truly grown as a leader within our organization. She has achieved great success, and I know more success awaits her in the future.”

The teen said she hasn’t settled on a major yet for her studies, but has narrowed it down to management or biology, with a slight lean toward management, as she feels it would open up more career opportunities down the line.

Whatever career area she chooses, however, will be in the military, as she wants to serve for the long term.

“I’ll be four years in Colorado,” she explained. “Our senior year we get our orders of where we will go. You have to be in for eight years, five active duty and then three can be in the reserves … but I want to be a lifer.”

Active in cheer, soccer and track during her years at EHS, along with FFA and a variety of other school and community organizations, Ley-Han said that hectic pace should serve her well.

“At the Academy there are strict schedules, you take 20 to 24 (college) units depending on what major you have, mandatory hours for study time,” she said, in addition to the military training. “I’ve prepared for this; I have worked on my time management.”

EHS counselor Ray Roncale said he isn’t surprised that the senior gained admission into the Air Force Academy.

“Academically, Cassidy has distinguished herself. She is currently ranked third from a class of 212 with a 4.26-weighted grade point average. She has maintained a rigorous course load including Advanced Placement classes during her time at EHS,” he pointed out. “In addition to her good work in the classroom, she possesses a positive attitude that elicits the best of those around her. Cassidy has exemplified an attitude of leadership and service while at EHS. She has been Senior Class Treasurer, Treasurer of Friends Helping Friends Club and a State Delegate for FFA. She also served as a Science Camp Counselor. The fact that she is dedicated and demonstrates a concern for others leaves no wonder why she is such a fine individual.”

With an uncle that served in the Air Force, another in the Marines, Ley-Han said service is part of her family history.

“My dad was an immigrant from Mexico, he came here to go to college and became a doctor, there were just so many opportunities that provided for us,” the senior shared, admitting to it being an emotional topic, with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for those opportunities. “This is a perfect way for me to give back.”