In a proud ceremony on Saturday morning, U.S. Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) honored 30 San Diego-area high school students on their way to United States service academies.
Peters nominated nine students to West Point, 10 to the Naval Academy, eight to the Air Force Academy and three to the Merchant Marine Academy. The students applied through the congressman’s office and interviewed with an independent panel of academy graduates, service members, veterans, and academic leaders.
One of the most difficult parts about getting into America’s service academies is being nominated by a member of Congress.
Peters, one of five congressmen or woman in San Diego County welcomed his nominees Saturday at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCAS). Members of Congress have limited nominations, so Peters used a panel to make the process more transparent.
So, who are some of these young men and women?
Influenced by his Coronado roots and fueled by his desire to join the military, high school student Max Stangl told NBC 7 he was thrilled to receive his nomination for acceptance to the Air Force Academy.
“Being able to save lives and also being in the Air Force is kind of something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and really make a difference,” Stangl explained.
Stangl said he wants to be a combat rescue officer.
“You're out there saving lives in a combat environment or a civilian environment, at home or abroad, being able to save lives and being in the air force is something that always drove me to it," he added.
Fellow honoree Kate Asaro also shares the same determined spirit as she embarks on her own military career. She was one of the few young women in Peters’ group.
Last week, the Mount Carmel High School accepted her offer of admission to the Naval Academy. She looks forward to the rewarding, yet challenging years ahead.
“Everyone has told me that they break you down just to build you back up,” she told NBC 7. “I’m there to be built up, so if they have to break my down, that’s what they got to do.”
La Jolla High School senior Luke Stojic received his nomination for the Merchant Marine Academy.
"I was told by a lot of Naval Academy graduates and a lot of military personnel, it's a best kept secret in America; it's a great college for engineering,” he told NBC 7.
During the ceremony, Peters described how these nominees not only met the requirements of the academies, but also embodied the values attributed to the men and women who serve our U.S. military.
“Even though academic preparation is essential, there are many other qualities that make a great applicant -- character, leadership, motivation, passion, and service,” he said.
Different backgrounds, talents and interests but, together, part of a promising group looking to represent America.