Chicago Students' Tour Piques Interest in Naval Academy

Story Number: NNS090414-13Release Date: 4/14/2009 5:54:00 PM
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By Lt. Karen E. Eifert, Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate Public Affairs

ANNAPOLIS (NNS) -- The Navy's Diversity Directorate led approximately 40 Chicago high schools students on a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis April 9 to encourage them to consider the military's version of an Ivy League education.

Cmdr. Jules B. Taylor, head of outreach in the directorate, was responsible for adding USNA to the students' tour, which was originally designed as a weeklong visit to only East Coast Ivy League schools.

"It just made sense for them to make a stop at the institution. The Naval Academy is one of the finest educations you can get in the world," Taylor said. "And, if you are selected to attend, you can't beat the price tag."

"The campus is so beautiful," said Katia Acosta, a sophomore from Phoenix Military Academy who currently boasts a 4.0 grade point average (GPA).

"But it was also a little overwhelming," she said referring to the many historic buildings, room after room of science labs and even the many midshipmen she described as "diligent" while en route to classes.

"I definitely intend to apply to the Naval Academy," she said. "I really like the discipline and dedication of the students and am already used to this from my own school."

Evelyn Ramirez, another 4.0 student who attends Phoenix Military Academy said she will also add USNA to her list because the school would provide a strong education - at a price her parents could afford.

"I'm not completely sure what I would like to study yet, but I like the environment and intend to add this to my top four college choices," she said.

Acosta and Ramirez joined the other 38 students and observed the academy's noon formation, a daily outdoor demonstration where the roughly 4,000 midshipmen perform marching routines before proceeding into Bancroft Hall for lunch.

By the end of a nearly five-hour tour, 10 students stated they would at least submit their applications.

Lt. Mike Files, a 1998 USNA graduate who is African-American, led portions of the tour and explained he wanted the students to understand why he worked so hard for his own nomination to the academy.

"How many places can you go where you go to get the equivalent of an Ivy League education, get paid a stipend every month and have a job waiting for you as soon as you graduate -- for free?"

Files also told the students about several notable academy graduates including Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen; Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead; former President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Sen. John McCain and Rear Adm. Michelle Howard who currently leads a coalition of naval vessels combating piracy in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

"I am committed to inspiring African-American students to aspire to be more and do great things in life, and letting them know a Naval Academy education can help facilitate that greatness," Files said. "Ultimately, I just want to make sure they understand the greatness of the opportunity before them."

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