BEMIDJI -- Entry into the elite Air Force Academy is an accomplishment few others can claim.

Bemidji High School senior Josh Nyberg is one of the few 2021 graduates from Minnesota -- the only one north of the metro area -- who can.

Along with being accepted into a prestigious school, Nyberg has kept himself busy throughout high school with four different sports, serving as co-president of the National Honor Society, being an active member of St. Philip’s Catholic Church and earning an Eagle Scout award.

Nyberg will graduate on Saturday, May 29 along with the rest of the Bemidji High School class of 2021.

Nyberg hails from a military background, with both of his parents serving in the U.S. Air Force.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

“My family's always been in the military, in the Air Force. So I knew about them and my sister-in-law also went to the Air Force Academy, so that was a big help, and that's how I got introduced to it,” Nyberg said.

Despite filling his high school career with activities, Nyberg has always made time for volunteering.

One of the things that led to his acceptance to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Nyberg said, was his Eagle Scout project, which centered around supporting the Northwoods Pregnancy Care Center.

“I talked at some local churches to raise money to help them pay for (their) new location. I raised about $5,000 through that, and then we got materials like diapers and other things. I did a drive at my own church,” Nyberg said. “And then we moved them over, with the Knights of Columbus, to their new location. And also, before we moved them, we helped paint their new location.”

Over the years, Nyberg also volunteered with his church and through the Special Olympics.

He’s found himself feeling sentimental as his time at BHS comes to a close.

“I'm going all the way to Colorado and all my friends are probably staying around here. It's not like I can come back most of the time. Most kids that go to college, they can come back for the weekend with their family. But in the military, you have to be there constantly,” he said. “That aspect hits the most because all my friends are still gonna be here and then I'm going to be all the way over there.”

The application process for the Air Force Academy was a grueling one, full of interviews, physicals and other requirements.

Nyberg’s application carried the weight of recommendation from state legislators like former District 7 Rep. Collin Peterson, as well as Bemidji High School Principal Jason Stanoch and other area leaders.

“He is a fantastic student and overall person that has worked very hard as a BHS student,” Stanoch said of Nyberg.

While at the Air Force Academy, Nyberg wants to study biology, with the hope of one day becoming an occupational or physical therapist. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he plans to attend a two-year occupational or physical therapy program, and then serve his five years of commitment to the U.S. Air Force.

Nyberg and the rest of Bemidji High School’s class of 2021 will celebrate their accomplishments with a commencement ceremony and procession beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 29 at the Sanford Center and ending at the high school.