MARICOPA — A Maricopa High School student is preparing to attend the U.S. Air Force Preparatory School in Colorado.
Charles Liermann, 18, a senior, reports to the 10-month program in July. He hopes it will be the first step in a future career serving his country in the Air Force as a cybersecurity expert.
“I’m excited,” he said. “This is something I’ve been working toward for a long time.”
Since childhood, Liermann has wanted to join the military.
“My grandpa and several uncles have been in the military and I’ve always looked up to them,” he said.
In the seventh grade, Liermann was assigned a project in which he had to research careers. A computer fan, he focused on the information technology field of jobs in the military, learning more about cybersecurity. The project laid the foundation for his future career plans.
“Ever since I was little, I was into video games and computers,” he said. “And I’ve wanted to join the military. My inspiration is the quote that says ‘do what you love for work and you’ll never spend a day working.’”
Throughout high school, Liermann worked toward his goal, joining the school’s Junior ROTC program, enrolling in the National Honor Society and maintaining a 4.56 GPA.
He also enrolled in the school’s career and technical education program, learning more about cybersecurity and taking part in national CyberPatriot competitions in which student teams are tasked with finding and fixing cybersecurity issues.
His team recently won a gold medal in the state CyberPatriot competitions.
Established in 1961, the competitive preparatory program is a pathway to those who wish to eventually attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, a public university and military service academy. About 80% of cadets who attend the preparatory program are offered appointment to the academy, according to the program website.
While at the school, cadets wear Air Force uniforms and serve as either active duty airmen or as reserve airmen on active orders. They are expected to maintain military standards and are subject to the military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice.
After being in MHS’s Air Force JROTC program, Liermann feels he’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s always nerve-wracking starting somewhere new, but I’m doing all I can to prepare. I’ve been training and doing the suggested workouts and I think JROTC prepared me for the yelling and the pressure,” he said.
Liermann, who graduates in May, considered other military academies but the U.S. Air Force is his top choice.
He received nominations for the Army’s West Point from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly as well as Rep. Tom O’Halleran, who also provided a recommendation for the Merchant Marine Academy.
Liermann runs on the MHS cross country team and was a Rotary Student of the Month.
He said he’d like to ultimately consider a long-term career with either the Air Force or Space Force.
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