November 9, 2021
DeLaVergne selected for elite pilot training program
The journey to ENJJPT
Eric DeLaVergne ‘22 has always known his calling.
“I do not remember a time in my entire life when I was not certain that the Air Force was my career path,” he said. “I never considered anything else.”
DeLaVergne’s aspirations of becoming a fighter pilot may soon take flight. Hailing from the Alaskan Native village of Larsen Bay and later the city of Sitka, he was selected to join the Euro-Nation Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT), the world’s only multi-nationally manned and managed flight-training program. Considered one of the most competitive programs offered through Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC), DeLaVergne will be one of 55 cadets to participate nationwide.
Cadets are selected based on an Order of Merit score composed of categories that include: Relative Standing Score, Pilot Candidate Selection Method, GPA and Physical Fitness Test. Cadets also attend a two-week field training experience where their leadership skills are evaluated and stratified.
Nonetheless, DeLaVergne acknowledges, “AFROTC and my selection was a team effort from my enlisted mentors, troops, ROTC peers, active duty cadre, teachers from Mt. Edgecumbe High School, CSS professors and even my family and friends as they accepted all of the sacrifices I’ve chosen to make. This is not something I did on my own.”
“The closest friends you’ll make at college”
For DeLaVergne, the AFROTC program has been his most rewarding experience at The College of St. Scholastica. Since 2018, he has participated at the local AFROTC detachment, Detachment 420, physically housed at the University of Minnesota, Duluth campus. The College participates as a crosstown school which means many of the program’s cadets are students from St. Scholastica as well as the University of Wisconsin, Superior.
“AFROTC creates an environment where you’re encouraged to fail, which is really unique,” he said. “In a STEM program, there’s one right answer. ROTC is not like that. We encourage cadets to make mistakes because then they’re going to learn more from those mistakes.”
He has also enjoyed the camaraderie and community of watching cadets grow through the program and develop into leaders.
In May, DeLaVergne will graduate from the College with a computer information systems major and Russian minor. That same day, he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He plans to go home and spend time with family before he enters active duty. Then, once his class date hits, he will enroll in ENJJPT and spend the next 55 weeks fulfilling a childhood dream.
He encourages other Saints to consider a similar path.
“If you’re interested in leading people, flying cool jets, managing satellite constellations, or in short becoming an Air Force or Space Force officer, the AFROTC program is the way to do it. Come give it a shot and it will open up a whole new set of experiences and introduce you to the closest friends you’ll make at college, and that second part I can guarantee.”
Learn more about the College’s relationship with Air Force ROTC and explore scholarship opportunities.