Vista Murrieta Grad off to Air Force Academy
In four years, a 19-year-old Murrieta man aims to be among the proud graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
There were some bumps in the road for Brian Tolle, a 2011 Vista Murrieta High School graduate, to get there.
Located in Colorado Springs, Colo., Tolle said he began applying for a sought-after appointment to the Air Force Academy during his sophomore year at Vista Murrieta High School. He also applied to Westpoint and the U.S. Naval Academy.
“By the time fall semester of senior year came around, it kind of became a waiting game,” Tolle said.
When the Murrieta native received word he had not been accepted to any of the three, he said he was crushed.
“I got rejected. It was one of the worst feelings in the world. I was super bummed,” said Tolle, who was in the top 25 of his graduating class and a cadet commander in the high school’s Air Force JROTC. “I got denied by all three.”
Instead, he got accepted to University of Arizona. After taking a trip to the U of A campus with his father, Tolle received a letter from the Air Force that they wanted to send him to their preparatory school in Crestline, Calif., for a semester on a $5,000 scholarship.
“It took them forever, it seemed like, but at the end of the prep school, I got notified this April that I had been accepted into the Air Force Academy.”
Tolle reports June 28 to the Air Force Academy, something he should be proud of, said Air Force Lt. Col. Christina Bell, a Murrieta-based admissions liaison officer who has supported Tolle along the way.
Bell is a 1991 graduate of the Air Force Academy.
“Appointments to the Military academies are highly competitive,” Bell told Patch. “This year USAFA was limited to offering just 1,000 slots nationwide [out of 12,000 applicants] to incoming freshman so Brian Tolle is one very fortunate and deserving young man.”
There were 13 students in the four-county area of Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino and Riverside who were made and accepted offers to USAFA for the upcoming school year, according to Bell.
“He was a qualified candidate last cycle (Class of 2015) but USAFA always has too many qualified candidates for the number of appointments we can offer—it’s simply that competitive that we unfortunately have to turn away deserving students each year,” she said.
Bell said many do apply a second or third year, as the Academy accpets freshman between 17 and 22 years old.
“As Brian neared the top of those qualified candidates who were not offered appointments, he was offered a Falcon Scholarship which he used at Northwestern Preparatory School this academic year. With his successful completion of the NW Prep program, he was then offered a full appointment to the AF Academy with the Class of 2016.”
Tolle will receive a four-year education valued at more than $45,000 per year, Bell said. He is required to commit to five years of active duty following graduation. He will enter as a second lieutenant.
But Tolle is confident in his decision, and not dreading one aspect it.
The son of an Orange County firefighter, Tolle said he was inspired by the “Military order” of firehouses.
“They have a regimented schedule and have to be ready to go at a drop of hat,” Tolle said. “But then I went on a ride-along with him and I don’t know if I could do what they do.”
Instead, Tolle wants to major in aeronautical engineering and eventually become a fighter pilot, which would require a commitment of at least 15 years in the Air Force.
A tri-sport athlete in high school, Tolle also hopes to walk-on to the Academy’s basketball or soccer team.
Looking back over the past year, he is grateful at how things turned out.
“I am actually really glad I did wait,” Tolle said. “The prep school taught me how to study. It gave me time to mature. It has been quite the journey for me.”
Tolle is among at least four Murrieta students who are heading to Military academies or prep schools this year.
Maya Woody, a 2012 graduate of Vista Murrieta, was recruited by the Air Force Academy Preparatory School, located on the Academy grounds in Colorado Springs, to play women’s basketball, according to Bell.
“She will receive academic and Military training to help ensure her successful transition to the AF Academy the following year with the Class of 2017,” Bell said.
From Murrieta Mesa High School, 2012 graduate Alex Monteilh received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, where 2012 graduate Vista Murrieta Sarah Howard will also attend.
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