CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) — Many high school commencement ceremonies are just weeks away. In the lead up, Eyewitness News is highlighting seniors with big plans that include “Focusing on the Future.”

CBS3’s Wakisha Bailey takes us inside Camden County Technical Schools for a flight lesson.  

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Some pictures just don’t need an explanation. Below is a picture of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Lovern. Last summer at the age of 17, Cadet Lovern earned her pilot’s wings.  

Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Lovern Set To Attend Flight Academy At Delaware State University

After many hours of flying, we were able to catch up with the young pilot inside Camden County Technical Schools.  

But we didn’t expect to find her in front of the class instructing and teaching younger cadets.  

We didn’t want to interrupt, so we spoke with retired lieutenant colonel Matthew Lacy. He’s the senior aerospace science instructor. But he only steps in when needed.  

“Our mission is to develop citizens of character, dedicated to serving their community and nation,” Lacy said. “ A lot of people, since we’re in military uniforms,  think it’s a recruiting program, we have nothing to do with that. Less than two percent of our cadets go into the military.”

Cadet Lovern is part of that 2% but she must graduate first. She is enrolled in the Air Force Junior Reserve Training Corps Leadership Career Program.   

“So day one, I didn’t know what to expect coming in,” Cadet Lovern said.  

Cadet Lovern said she was like 14 or 15-year-old, and she was being taught by peers about her age or slightly older when she entered the program. 

“They were teaching us everything from drills, putting a uniform together, how to wear it, they were giving us public speaking tips.,” Cadet Lovern said. 

Cadet Lovern says a traditional high school was not for her, and neither is the pursuit of a traditional career.  

“The goal is going to be and will be to go into the military as a commissioned officer,” Cadet Lovern said. 

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Over the summer, Cadet Lovern was one of 150 students in the United States to receive a scholarship to attend a flight academy at Delaware State University. But it didn’t come easy.

“I tried out freshman year, actually, and I didn’t get accepted; sophomore year didn’t get accepted,” Cadet Lovern said. “Junior year I figured i’ve been doing it the past two years, I’ll put in see what happens.”

She was finally accepted.  

After an intense eight weeks, Cadet Lovern was a licensed pilot who could fly solo. 

Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Lovern Set To Attend Flight Academy At Delaware State University

“It was awesome to be in the cockpit, to be in the pilot seat to really feel the controls and  be the one flying the aircraft,” Cadet Lovern said.   

When she returned back to Camden, there was one tradition Cadet Lovern welcomed: The Ice Bucket Challenge – a challenge that every pilot must take after their first solo flight.  

“It’s so hard to explain because it’s something that not everyone gets to do or experience, and it’s just such a unique feeling and experience,” Cadet Lovern said. 

She said she’s sad to leave, but she is excited to begin focusing on the future.  

And one day she will fly over this special place that prepared her for take off. 

Cadet Lovern has also received a scholarship to Delaware State University. She’ll attend classes before entering the military.  

Know an outstanding high school senior that deserves recognition? Let us know by completing the form below and we may select the student to be featured in our “Focusing on the Future” series. 

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Wakisha Bailey