Over the past half a year here at the Air Force Academy, I have carefully observed the upperclassmen, my classmates, and candidates for the Class of 2018 and beyond. Some of what I have found, quite frankly, frightens me. Here's why.... As American teenagers, most of us have grown up thinking that we are special- that we deserve what we want, that we are exceptions to rules, that we are owed better treatment than those around us because of what we have (or have not, rather) accomplished. We complain when we don't get our way and we make excuses when mistakes are made. Accepting responsibility is shockingly rare. In fact, there are probably some reading this now that may think that this doesn't apply to them. The truth is if you are apart of my generation, you are guilty of this behavior- myself included. You have looked at the person next to you and thought you were better than them- whether it be because of your grades, social status, position of authority, on and on. You have thought before that because you worked hard once, you are ENTITLED to whatever it is you may desire. However, I feel that the example my parents set, the experiences I've had at MMI, and my time at USAFA have lead me to one strongly felt conclusion so far: this sense of entitlement is extremely poisonous and detrimental as a leader here at the academy, and out in the military as well. There are leaders who believe they are entitled to more respect and your followership because of who they are, but never work hard to back it up. There are those who coast along with their classmates, and for every rule given, they believe they are the exception. They are usually not even self-aware enough to realize that they are naturally alienated because they are not a teammate, wingman, battle buddy. And then there are some who believe they deserve some sort of award or acknowledgement for doing their job, and they are outraged when it isn't received. If you are a candidate... let me ask you this question. Would you want to follow someone like this? Would you want to serve with someone who acts like any of the example above? This way of thinking does not usually begin at the academy. It is fostered at this critical turning point in your life right now. You have worked very hard up to this point, and it DOES mean something- you have a nomination, you are qualified, you are waiting impatiently for an answer. You are impressive, and you have the capabilities to continue being impressive. But, as someone who had to reapply, let me make this clear: you are never GIVEN or HANDED an appointment to a service academy. You EARN an appointment. A guy in my squad applied FOUR TIMES until he earned his spot here. Hard work and dedication pay off when you stick to it, not when you act as though you are entitled because of it. The hard work and dedication should not die once you get an appointment... it should grow. You show dedication to the country, institution, to your leaders, your classmates, your studies, your fitness. Above all, I have learned the meaning and incredible value of servant leadership. You lead to better those airmen/cadets who look to you, you are tactful and creative, and you are humble. Airmen, and people in general, will not respect you for being entitled. Every day I am working to be the officer this country deserves. My expectation is that if you earn a spot here, you will do the same. I hope this gives you a little bit of insight into who I am, what I believe in, and why I'm here. I wish the best for all of you, and I promise the wait won't last forever. Hang in there and know that I am (among many others) rooting for every single one of you. Keep the motivation high.