To Study And Serve: CCHS Seniors Take Aim At Getting Into Military Academies
FeaturesGeneral Features January 24, 2013 Admin
BY JESSICA WEAVER
Around this time each year, high school seniors find themselves over stressed and anxious due to the college application process. Rushing to get last minute recommendation letters and acceptable SAT scores, they find themselves dreading the schools they were once so excited to apply to. But little do they know, their struggle is only a part of what seniors applying to service academies have to go through. For these daring seniors, their motivation is not only to attend the college of their dreams but to also to take part in serving their country.
The term service academy is a broad title used for the academies of the four branches of military: which are the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Applicants of all service academies, with the exception of the U.S Coast Guard Academy, are required to obtain nominations. The nominations can either be congressional, senatorial, vice presidential, or presidential. Receiving nominations is like sending in a whole college application itself. To narrow the competition the politicians hold interviews and from there they nominate the students they think are most fitting for the academies. However, students don’t just need one nomination, but several. This means they have to go through the nomination process at least three times in addition to the actual application for the academy.
Once nominated, the admissions process is extensive and highly competitive. Like any prestigious college, the academies look for a well-rounded student. They require students to have high GPA’s and SAT/ACT test scores as well as participation in community service. The academies also look to see that applicants have participated in school athletics, clubs, and activities. Also, like a regular college, they look for leadership positions. As if all those requirements weren’t enough, students must also pass the Candidate Fitness Assessment which is a physical fitness test as well as qualify medically.
“The requirements to get accepted are like those of an Ivy League college,” Senior Niko Ouano said. “On top of that, you must pass a fitness test, and must be medically qualified to get in.”
Ouano applied in the beginning of the year for the Air Force Academy. He also applied to congress for nominations and had interviews with Senator Rubio’s and Senator Nelson’s offices, as well as Congresswoman Wasserman-Shultz’s office. Although he found out about the Academy applications rather late compared to the other students, Ouano worked hard on his application all summer.
“I applied because I wanted to do something exciting and meaningful,” Ouano said. “Serving my country has been something I’ve always wanted to do and this seems like the perfect opportunity.”
Ouano’s hard work paid off when he was accepted into the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. After formally accepting, Ouano will continue to stay fit and prepare to start Basic Cadet Training June 27.
During summer, the academy students go through physical and military training called “Basic Training”. This can cover anything from land navigation, water survival, and leadership training. During the academic year they will participate in an equally challenging academic schedule along with the military training. The students are required to maintain balance between the difficult classes and training, all while participating in mandatory sports.
This might seem like a rigorous schedule for a first year college student, but to Senior Tate Jager it is an aspiration he first acquired his freshman year.
“I wanted to serve my country and continue my family’s tradition of military service.” Jager said. “My dad is a Lieutenant Commander in the Coast Guard and my grandfather was a Military Policeman in the Army.”
Jager applied to the United States Coast Guard Academy and looks forward to his future in the armed forces.
“I’m motivated by my family, friends, and by the idea of serving my country.” Jager said.
Upon graduating from the academies, the students are commissioned as an Officer and will serve a minimum of five years in their branch. Students at the academy obtain a bachelor degree prior to serving. This path into the forces might seem highly rigorous, but to these students it is the best way to ensure their future dreams.
For senior Destiny Harrell a summer leadership seminar at the Naval Academy solidified the choice to take the hard path. Applying to the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy, Harrell is working towards her goal of becoming a military doctor. This decision makes for a longer and more difficult future, as Harrell will be adding two years of serving in the U.S Military for every extra year she attends medical school on top of the previous obligation of serving a minimum of 5 years. Regardless of the extra-long journey, Harrell is pleased to have been offered appointments from the US Naval Academy, the US Air Force Academy, and the US Military Academy at West Point. As of now, her first choice is the Naval Academy, but she has yet to officially accept the offer. While Harrell thinks over her big decision she will continue preparing mentally and physically for the basic training that begins during the summer. Because of Harrell’s hard work and dedication, she has successfully reached the first stepping stone on the path to her future.
“The academies offer an environment where I know I will be happy.” Harrell said. “They also will allow me to develop as a person.”
For these three students a normal senior year would be unfathomable. Unlike others, these special students must continue to go above and beyond to reach their destination. Once there they face an even more rigorous path to graduate as an officer in service to our country. Their drive and focus throughout their unique application process should be a lesson to students who just do the bare minimum and their hard work should be noted by all.