Published: March 12, 2024 By

Mackenzie Sigler knew she was interested in joining the Air Force from a young age. It began with a visit to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. 

“I saw everyone all dressed up in their uniforms,” Sigler said. “I was like, wow, that's kind of cool.”

Now a first-year student at CU Boulder, Sigler attends weekly meetings as part of her training with Air Force ROTC. Her schedule includes physical training sessions at least twice a week, a job within ROTC, an aerospace studies course and a leadership laboratory—on top of a full course load.

Mackenzie Sigler


I know how important it is that I'm showing up and working on myself to become a future leader in the Air Force.”
–Mackenzie Sigler


CU Boulder’s AFROTC is part of Detachment 105, the largest detachment in the Northwest region. Aspiring cadets can expect a world of opportunities including leadership development, scholarship options, a rewarding future and more. 

Aim high

Sigler dreams of being a pilot one day—she even flew a plane in past training—but before getting her dream job, there are many hoops to jump through. Becoming an Air Force pilot requires getting pilot hours before applying, taking the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test and passing physical tests. 

Sigler is a rockstar, to say the least. 

Once she reaches junior year, she’ll be asked what kind of profession she wants to pursue in the Air Force. While pilot is at the top of her list, she would also be content with getting a job in aircraft maintenance or being assigned a position as a developmental engineer. 

Day in the life

“Sometimes with engineering, my schedule gets a little hectic,” Sigler said. “I usually have three to four classes on any given day.”

Even with a busy schedule, she always keeps her eye on the prize. On some days of the week, she wakes up before 6 a.m. and heads to a physical training session, which either takes place at the Rec or outside, weather permitting. 

“I can't miss it. I'm just disciplined in that way, like, I know how important it is that I'm showing up and working on myself to become a future leader in the Air Force,” Sigler said. “Having a sense of purpose and a goal in mind, I think, is really helpful for waking up.”

AFROTC offers a multitude of scholarship opportunities and clubs for those interested in piloting. Amongst these clubs is Success Enabled Pilots, a program in which cadets can explore their interests in aviation. 

Another benefit of joining AFROTC is the built-in resources within the program and the value of forming relationships with flightmates. 

“We're all in ROTC, so we're all in it together,” Sigler said. “We have those same values, the same life view and the same goal. It’s really easy to bond with those around you.”

A helping hand 

Sigler has a mentor who helps her work her way through AFROTC, and who she describes as a “really good resource and friend.” 

Sigler’s mentor also heads the AFROTC Cadet Wing Information Operations, where Sigler works. In this position, she reaches out to cadets and news outlets to spread awareness about the program. 

After graduation, Sigler will join the Air Force and begin commissioning.  

Incoming freshman and sophomores interested in AFROTC can learn more about eligibility on the Detachment 105 website.

“There's just a whole bunch of opportunities within the Air Force and ROTC that I think are really valuable and worth the trouble of going through,” Sigler said. “It's really rewarding.”