Jeremiah Hoffman’s smile speaks volumes, his braces glistening and eyes bright as he describes the thrill of soaring with eagles as a glider ride. The glider’s 60-foot wingspan and warm summer thermals lift the young pilot above a rare panorama of southern Minnesota landscape.
“It’s a fantastic experience, to ride from 3,000 feet to 6,000 and sometimes see eagles up there with me,” said the Brainerd teen of his 40 glider flights provided as part of a summer academy offered at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, through the Civil Air Patrol.
At 18, the Central Lakes College student is flying high academically, having been a National Merit Finalist and studied his way to perfect grades. This while serving as commander of the Brainerd Civil Air Patrol squadron.
In June the CLC honor student trades his Civil Air Patrol “wings” for an appointment to a dream job. Jeremiah has been accepted to the U.S. Air Force Academy and looks forward to traveling to Colorado Springs, Colo., for orientation. Only 10 percent of applicants are accepted.
“I would like to be an Air Force pilot,” he said. “There are many other roles that I’d also be willing to explore.” Right up there on the list is a prospect of space flight, part of an aerospace team.
He said he would consider a career with NASA. He is researching the work of a space operations officer, which could be likened to a civilian air traffic controller tracking airspace in crowded skies.
Fascinated with science and math since childhood, Jeremiah has also explored the prospect of university studies in physics, aeronautics or aerospace engineering. He has looked at the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Central Lakes College has helped him prepare. “I was home-schooled until last year,” he said, when he enrolled in the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option program that qualifies eligible high school students to earn college credits.
Jeremiah completed 16 college courses and achieved a perfect 4.0 grade-point average this year and a cumulative GPA nearly as good.
“PSEO has been invaluable,” he said. “It provided a way to earn two full years of college credit virtually free and made the transition from home school to college before moving away from home. I had access to faculty with knowledge and more peers with interest in the subjects and fields which interest me most.”
Jeremiah is the son of Curt and Katie Hoffman. He has six brothers and five sisters and is the second oldest. Sister Kaylee is a high school junior and PSEO student at CLC. His older brother Jordan also has been a PSEO student at CLC.
If his younger siblings find their way to CLC, one instructor welcoming them will be Pam Pruitt in mathematics. She cherishes the qualities Jeremiah has exhibited in three calculus courses she has taught the honor student.
He’s not only exceptionally bright,” she said. ”He also is very respectful, polite, humble, and grounded. His folks must be really proud. I think he listens and watches during class and then learns the rest all on his own. He’s an ‘A’ student who doesn’t create any extra work and he will do very well as he continues his education.”
In his non-academic time, Jeremiah works 20 hours per week at Culver’s, played soccer for Lake Region Christian School in the fall and was a sprinter with the Brainerd High School track team in the spring.
As cadet commander of the local CAP squadron he spends at least six hours per week tending to duties that include a weekly squadron meeting.
With two grandfathers who were in the Air Force, Jeremiah has been hearing about this branch of military service since he was a child. It has motivated him. Another achievement has been receiving the Billy Mitchell Award that honors aviation advocates, presented to him by State Rep. John Ward and Civilian Air Patrol Squadron Commander Dale Armstrong.
He has also been an American Legion Boys State delegate (2011) and a participant in the Central Lakes College Science and Engineering Camp (2009).