By Ann Patton
Academy Spirit Staff
The Academy’s newest director of admissions was confirmed by the Senate May 7.
Col. Carolyn Benyshek, a 1987 Air Force Academy graduate, was assigned the special assistant to the superintendent in January.
“It was wonderful coming back,” she said. “While the people may have changed, a lot has stayed the same.”
Before her return, the colonel served as the acting director for space programs and policy at the Pentagon and attended the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort Lesley J. McNair, Va. From July 2005 to July 2007, she served as commander of the National Reconnaissance Office Operations Squadron at nearby Schriever Air Force Base.
“There is no job in the Air Force that prepares you for being director of admissions at a major university,” she said. “It’s a steep learning curve, but I’m excited about learning the ropes.”
Colonel Benyshek said she sees her new position as “conductor” of the various operations in her directorate: marketing, recruiting and mentoring cadets from a diverse range of backgrounds, reviewing applications, compiling scores, and assisting with congressional nominations.
“The Air Force Academy is one of the most selective colleges in America. We seek young men and women who have the qualities and genuine motivation to succeed in a very challenging environment and whose primary goal is to serve our nation as Air Force officers and warriors,” she said. “We all work together to get qualified candidates in the door.”
Colonel Benyshek said prospective cadets represent a wide range of interest in attending the Academy, from those who have wanted to come here since an early age to others who have little or no knowledge of what the Academy can offer.
She gives high marks to the 1,600 academy liaison officers worldwide who recruit and counsel young men and women in their local areas with strong backgrounds in test scores, physical fitness, grades and extracurricular activities. ALOs also counsel prospective Air Force officers on avenues of commissioning other than the Academy such as ROTC and Officer Training School. The Department of Athletics also seeks out talented athletes and potential cadets and serves in the overall recruitment mix.
Colonel Benyshek pointed out a few observations on the incoming classes. The qualified candidate pool is highly competitive. The Class of 2013 had the highest SAT and ACT scores in Academy history to date, and the class of 2014 is trending along those same lines.
Last year, more than 10,000 candidates applied to the Academy. The colonel said this year’s numbers were ahead of last year, but numbers don’t necessarily tell the whole story.
“It’s less about the number of applicants and more about the number of qualified candidates,” she said.
The admission process focuses on the major Academy experiences-academic, leadership, athletic and character according to the Academy Admissions fact sheet. Objective and subjective admissions criteria are combined for a holistic review.
Colonel Benyshek’s major awards include the Defense Superior Service Media, three Defense Meritorious Service Medals, an Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, three Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, two Joint Service Achievement Medals and a National Reconnaissance Office Director’s Circle Award.
Her career spans a variety of space operations, engineering, acquisitions and staff assignments associated with early warning, GPS and intelligence systems. She holds master’s degrees in business administration, military operational art and science and national resource strategy.