Hila Levy

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Hila Levy
Hila Levy.jpg
Captain Hila Levy[note 1]
First Puerto Rican awarded a Rhodes scholarship
Born December 10, 1986 (1986-12-10) (age 30)
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Allegiance United States United States of America

Seal of the US Air Force.svg United States Air Force

Air Force Reserve Command.png Air Force Reserve
Years of service 2010 - present
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain
Unit 35th Operations Group, 35th Fighter Wing

Captain Hila Levy (born December 10, 1986) is an officer in the United States Air Force who was the first Puerto Rican to be awarded a Rhodes scholarship.[1] She was honored with a plaque that has her name, squadron name and graduation date, which was placed in the ballroom balcony of the Academy's hall of honor. The plaque recognizes Levy as the top former CAP cadet in the Class of 2008.

Early years[edit]

Levy was born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican father and an Israeli mother. She received both her primary and secondary education in the city of her birth. In 2004, Levy graduated from Saint John’s School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Levy, who joined the Puerto Rico Wing of the Civil Air Patrol in 2000, reached the rank of Cadet Colonel and was the CAP's National Cadet of the Year in 2004. According to her citation, she earned the award for her outstanding academic performance, strong leadership skills, well-rounded extracurricular activities, and positive community involvement.[2] Levy has stated that her experiences in the Civil Air Patrol served as an influential factor on her decision to apply for an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.


Levy received an appointment to attend the United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs in Colorado. As a Cadet 1st Class and member of Squadron 9, she was among 28 cadets named Dean's Aces and who were honored for their academic achievements in the Fall semester of 2005 at the academy. Levy, who earned a 4.0 grade point average that semester, was one of five cadets that year to be named an Ace three times.[3] On May 28, 2008, Levy earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with 3 foreign language minors: Arabic, French and Spanish. She finished as the top graduate, earning the Outstanding Cadet in the Order of Graduation Award and a spot on the academy's 100-year Honor Roll.[4] She received her Second Lieutenant's commission in the United States Air Force and awards from the Argentine Air Force and the Chilean Air Force for graduating first in her class during the US Air Force Academy Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony.[4]

Rhodes scholar[edit]

In 2007, Levy became the first Puerto Rican and the 35th Academy cadet to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. She was awarded the scholarship for the District 13 of Colorado. The Rhodes Scholarships were created in 1902 under the terms and conditions of the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British born African colonial pioneer.[1]

Levy was planning on using the scholarship to obtain two master's degrees of one year each, the first a Master’s of Science in Global Health Science and the second a Master’s of Science in Medical Anthropology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, however she was accepted to the Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) in Public Health program (a 3-year degree which grants Oxford's Ph.D. equivalent) starting September 2008, under Oxford's Department of Public Health with Prof. Harold Jaffe as her supervisor.[1]

Early in her first year at Oxford, she transferred to the History Faculty, where she obtained a Master of Studies in Historical Research in 2009 under military historian Dr. Robert Johnson, focusing on the formation of national armies in former French Equatorial Africa. Levy then obtained a Master of Science in Biology at Oxford, focusing on the population genetics of humans in southern Africa (under Dr. Cristian Capelli) and of penguins in the South Atlantic (under Dr. Tom Hart of the Institute of Zoology in London). Levy started her follow-on assignment in September 2010.[5]

Levy joined two other Rhodes Scholarship winners from the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy making it the second consecutive year that the military academies claimed three of only 32 recipients in the United States.[1]

Levy is fluent in Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew, French and Spanish and has published numerous articles related to language in the military and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Levy was promoted to First Lieutenant in May 2010.


Levy was honored with a plaque that has her name, squadron name and graduation date, which has been placed in the ballroom balcony of the Academy's hall of honor. The plaque recognizes Levy as the top former CAP cadet in the Class of 2008.[4]

Military and USAFA awards[edit]

Among the Military and USAFA awards which Captain Hila Levy earned as a Cadet in the United States Air Force Academy are the following:


USAFA Badges (Worn only on cadet's uniform)

  • AFA AVInstructor.jpg  Cadet Aviation Instructor badge
  • AFA Comm-Dean.jpg  Commandant and Dean's Lists badge

Further reading[edit]

  • "Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own"; by : Greg Boudonck; ISBN 1497421837; ISBN 978-1497421837

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Levy is pictured wearing the insignia of Cadet 1st Class.


  1. ^ a b c d United States Air Force Academy, Cadet makes history as Rhodes recipient, By Megumi Johnston Archived 2009-01-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ CAP Cadet of the year
  3. ^ Academy Spirit; Vol. 46 No. 13; March 31, 2006; Record number of cadets turn up Aces; by the Dean of the Faculty Staff
  4. ^ a b c Top Air Force Academy graduate, former CAP cadet, earns Rhodes Scholar
  5. ^ PROZ