By Elisabeth Costanzo Stewart
One of Cadet Fourth Class Dani Bryan’s first childhood memories is of the power and beauty of aviation. She distinctly remembers tagging along with her dad to the Binghamton Airshow. Clinging to her noise-canceling headphones, she gazed up at the sky and watched in awe as the Blue Angels skillfully weaved through the clouds. At that moment, Bryan knew that she was meant to be up there with them.
While Cadet Bryan isn’t currently piloting a Super Hornet, she is well on her way. The Binghamton native is in the midst of her freshman year (fourth class) at the United States Air Force Academy, fulfilling a goal that she set as a young girl.
Dani Bryan attended Ross Corners Christian Academy for elementary, middle, and high school. A naturally gifted student, she was encouraged to skip 8th grade and graduated with honors from high school at the age of 16. Due to her young age, Bryan was unable to apply directly to the Air Force Academy upon graduating. After contemplating how to spend her pre-Air Force gap year, she elected to come to SUNY Broome to study Engineering Science: A.S. to build an educational foundation for her future studies in aeronautical engineering. Bryan was given advice early on to “apply for everything,” so when it came time to fund her education, she reached out to the SUNY Broome Foundation and did just what she was told. The Foundation’s comprehensive application allowed her to “apply for everything” and as a result, she was awarded the Francis and Lillian Paul Scholarship three times (as an incoming freshman, a continuing student, and a transfer student) to assist with the cost of SUNY Broome and her future academic pursuits.
Due to the pandemic, her first year at SUNY Broome was confined to online classes. Thankfully, the following fall semester brought lighter social distancing restrictions, and the much-anticipated return of in-person classes. Cadet Bryan was finally able to collaborate with her fellow engineering science classmates on campus. Together they compared notes, studied for exams, and entered engineering contests where their draft of a micro-hydropower system won second place.
It was during this time that Dani Bryan began the intensive undertaking of applying to the Air Force Academy, a process that was wholeheartedly supported by her SUNY Broome family.
“Professor Robert Lofthouse was so invested in my journey to the Air Force Academy. He always asked for updates and never hesitated to write letters of recommendation on my behalf. I will always appreciate his care and support,” shared Cadet Bryan.
Applying to the Air Force Academy is a multistep process that requires congressional appointment to proceed. Bryan interviewed with Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and received the incredibly rare honor of being selected as Congresswoman Tenney’s appointed applicant for both the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. Bryan then participated in a series of interviews with the Academy in which she was evaluated on her academic achievements, her character, and her ability to pass the physical and medical standards for commissioning. The Air Force Academy’s Class of 2026 applicant pool included over 8,300 prospective students. At the conclusion of the admissions cycle, just over 1,000 students officially joined the Air Force Academy’s entering class, 301 of whom were women.
Due to the nature of the Air Force Academy’s academic structure, transfer credits are very limited. In some cases, however, the Academy will accept previously completed courses, as is the case with Bryan’s SUNY Broome physics credits.
“Professor Glasgow’s classes were fantastic and were by far my favorite. They were tough for sure, but he explained everything so clearly. I was so excited to hear that my physics credits were accepted for transfer,” said Bryan.
Before classes officially began, Dani Bryan participated in the required six weeks of basic training. This intensive program is designed to challenge prospective students mentally and physically. While Bryan admits that the experience was kind of a blur at the time, she found it to be incredibly rewarding.
“I accomplished things during basic that I never thought that I could. Were there times when I thought “Don’t cry. I’m not going to cry”? Yes. But I focused and did my best to remain collected and poised,” said Bryan.
With basic under her belt, Cadet Fourth Class Dani Bryan is focusing her energy on her course work and training and looking forward to experiencing all of the abundant opportunities offered through the Air Force Academy and the Air Force at large.
Her childhood goals are still the same. One day, she will be in the air with an eagle on her shoulder, and those of us at SUNY Broome, her professors, her advisors, and her friends will proudly cheer her on each step of the way.
Have you been inspired by Dani’s story? A semester, a year, or two years at SUNY Broome can lay the foundation for hundreds of career paths. Your first step is to apply to SUNY Broome! The application is free and takes only ten minutes to complete. If you have any questions about the application process, don’t hesitate to contact SUNY Broome’s Admissions Office at +1 (607) 778-5001 or email@example.com.