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Military academy session draws interested students
U.S. Merchant Marines Academy alumnus Bruce Howie speaks with Riverside Military Academy Sgt. 1st Class Kier Kaiser, 17, a junior, about admission requirements for the Marines academy Sunday during a service academy information fair at Riverside Military Academy. The fair targeted students, in eighth-grade and higher, who are interested in attending any of the nation’s military service academies. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

More than 200 people visited Riverside Military Academy on Sunday to determine many young men’s futures.
Ninth District U.S. Rep. Tom Graves and 10th District U.S. Rep. Paul Broun hosted an information fair about the country’s service academies and their admissions policies.

“It’s a priority to support in the district. We want to send the most qualified students we can identify, and we reach out through information fairs, school counselors and JROTC programs,” said Anne Marie Sutherland, Graves’ scheduler and service academy coordinator. “It’s important to continue to send quality people to defend our country and offer them the best opportunities. It’s inspiring to see eighth graders to seniors starting to make those big decisions.”

Students from across northern Georgia — and even a few from southern Georgia — showed up to hear how they can prepare for the admission process at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

“To get into an academy, it’s a 2.5 year process,” said Adriane Seymour, director of communications and public relations for Riverside. “It’s an education that costs $400,000 and up, and at the different academies, 12,000 students may apply with only 1,500 accepted. You can imagine how competitive a process it is.”

Representatives from local colleges also talked about their Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, and parents picked up brochures about the Air Force ROTC, Army ROTC and Navy ROTC.

“You lay the groundwork and do your best, and then it’s in somebody else’s hands. There’s no one key thing,” said Capt. Doug Fuge, a physics professor at Riverside who is also the Naval Academy’s outreach admissions coordinator in the area. He was a nuclear submarine commander in the Navy.

“Wanting this is important, and so is working hard,” he told parents. “That’s enough to get your dreams.”

Starting junior year, students can begin an application at a service academy and then must complete academic, medical and physical tests to earn an appointment at the school. They also need a nomination from their U.S. senator or representative.

Graves set up a Military Academy Selection Board to help students with the nomination process. All applications are due to his office on Friday, Oct. 29.

“I want to serve my country and go to one of the academies, and I feel competitive. I want to make sure I get straight on the requirements to maximize my application,” said Matt Stephens, a Hebron Christian Academy student who traveled from Dacula on Sunday for the information session. “This really gives me a chance to see how the process works and try to match my plans up with theirs. Plus, it’s always nice to have face time with the admissions coordinators and representatives.”