Kendall ‘Levi’ Rate is a 2016 graduate of Bloomingdale High School who graduated from the Air Force Academy on April 18 in the first-ever livestreamed ceremony due to COVID-19.

Poet Henry David Thoreau once said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Kendall ‘Levi’ Rate of Bloomingdale would agree with Thoreau.

Levi is a 2016 graduate of Bloomingdale High School who graduated from the Air Force Academy on April 18 in the first-ever livestreamed ceremony due to COVID-19. His was the only class, across all military academies and civilian colleges, to be kept at school for the sole purpose of having a graduation ceremony.

“In mid-March, the academy sent home the lowerclassmen and the upperclassmen stayed at the academy so we can graduate and be commissioned into the Air Force,” Levi said.

Levi is the second oldest of five children and from a very young age he knew he wanted to attend the Air Force Academy.

“I come from a military family,” Levi said. “My dad is a 1992 graduate who retired from the Air Force in 2018 after 26 years of service and also taught at the academy. My family did not push the military on me. I just knew from the time I was 3-years-old that I wanted to be in the Air Force.”

Levi has had quite an amazing academic career. He was a four-time Air Force Academy Wing Open Boxing Champion, the 16th person in academy history to do that, but he was the first to win at four different weight classes.

He is a two-time NCBA All-American who, along with the USAFA team, had a very good chance at winning nationals this year, if their season had not been cut short by the coronavirus. He was also on the superintendent’s list for seven out of eight semesters while at the academy.

Levi’s family is beyond proud of all of his achievements. They were saddened that they couldn’t be with him when he graduated, but they were thrilled that Levi’s dad was able to commission him into the Air Force.

“We set up the American flag at our home and his dad was able to commission Levi into the Air Force virtually,” said Levi’s mother, Kim Rate. “He is one of the most patriotic people I know and a natural protector. We are so proud of him and we know he will be great no matter what he does in the Air Force.”

Levi will be heading to Texas in June to start his training for intelligence and special operations with the Air Force.

“I am passionate about special operations,” Levi said. “I want to make the military my lifetime career.”

He knows he couldn’t have come this far without the love and support of his family and community.

“I want to thank my family and the community for supporting me all along my career. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.