By Piper Banning
Ana Chase, born in Hawaii and soon to be a Bonners Ferry High School graduate, has been nominated by two U.S. Senators to not one but two of the nation’s the U.S. Military Academies, with Senator Mike Crapo nominating her for the U.S. Naval Academy and Senator Jim Risch nominating her for appointments to both the Naval Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Ana’s dad and grandfather were both in the Navy and this fostered Ana’s desire to be in one of the maritime academies.
“These 44 Idahoans are exemplary students who are committed to selflessly serving our nation and defending our freedoms,” Risch said of his academy nominees. “Their leadership, character and academic promise make each of these young men and women a phenomenal fit to attend one of our nation’s service academies. I commend each of them for the accomplishments they have already earned, and I look forward to seeing their continued success.”
Ana grew up in Bonners Ferry with her mom Stephanie, who instilled in her a strong desire for organization and excellent grades in anticipation of her future. Ana says that her mom required much of her as a child; clean room, good grades, clean clothes, etc., and her desire for structure, organization and excellence made her feel that acceptance to a service academy was an attainable goal. She started the application process after she completed the SAT’s her junior year, the first step in a grueling process of applications, physical fitness tests, medical exams, numerous interviews and drives to Spokane for her application to be accepted. She also needed a number of recommendations from teachers and community leaders to include with her application, and have everything in and complete by a strict deadline of November 1 of this, her senior year, or all her efforts were wasted.
“A nomination to a service academy is only the first step in the appointment process,” Risch writes on the service academies page of his official Senate website. “Although the process is lengthy and very competitive, the opportunities you will have if selected are tremendous.”
There are five U.S. Service Academies in the United States that train and educate cadets for service as military officers and only one, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, does not require a Senate nomination as a criterion for acceptance. In addition to the Navy and Merchant Marine academies, there is the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Each requires high educational and physical standards, but more than that. Each applicant must possess high moral standards and exemplary character. Each must possess demonstrable leadership skills. Each United States Senator is allowed to nominate five applicants to each service academy over a four-year period. Of those who receive Senate nominations to the four academies requiring them, about 11-percent receive appointments.
Each academy is a four-year school which confers upon graduation not only a Bachelor of Science degree, but a commission as an officer in the United States Armed Forces.
Cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, are midshipmen on active duty in the U.S. Navy who are commissioned Navy Ensigns or Marine Corps second lieutenants upon graduation. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, New York, graduates leaders who serve as licensed Merchant Marine Officers and as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces, serving either five years active duty in any U.S. military branch or five years in the U.S. maritime industry and eight years as an officer in any military reserve unit.
Those graduating from the Naval Academy serve five years active duty in exchange for their four-year education. And that was part of what motivated Ana to work so hard for her nominations, her strong desire for a quality education to be paid not with money, but service to her country.
Because of her win in Distinguished Young Women last year, she feels this in some ways set her application for the academy apart from others. She has not had access to ROTC or other military-based high school programs like the typical applicant. Instead she participated in leadership, DYW and sports.
And now, she waits. Her applications now go to both service academy, where they will be evaluated along with all others. If her application rises based on her ACT and SAT scores, the letters of those who gave her recommendations, her physical, medical and mental health and more, she will, typically before springtime graduation, receive an offer of admission. In Ana’s case, rare indeed, she could receive two!
Ana extends her thanks to Teresa Rae, who graduated West Point and retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel, who has been her friend and mentor for the past several years and who has encouraged and helped her throughout this long process.