Dayton native is top grad at Air Force Academy

A Dayton native is the highest-ranking graduate at the Air Force Academy, placing first among a class of 840 cadets.

Cadet First Class Rebecca Esselstein, a 2011 Alter High School graduate, also has been previously named a Rhodes scholar and will study astrophysics at Oxford in the United Kingdom this fall.

Esselstein, 22, will graduate Thursday with a 3.98 grade point average. She majored in astronautical engineering. Cadets are ranked in military and athletic performance to determine the top cadet.

“It’s really crazy, really humbling,” she said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I had a lot of help along the way.”

She has aspirations to become an Air Force pilot and astronaut.

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