Seven cadets of the Utah Military Academy have received congressional nominations to attend one of the U.S. Military Academies.
In order to attend one of the academies, cadets must be nominated by members of the U.S. Congress. Every year, each state gives about 30 nominations to students.
The “Magnificent 7,” as the Utah school calls them, includes four men and three women who have been nominated to attend West Point, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.
Benjamin Ross, a 16-year-old cadet from West Haven, was accepted earlier this month into the U.S. Naval Academy. He has accepted his appointment since.
“I’m a military brat,” Ross said. “I grew up into that lifestyle.”
He was homeschooled until he joined the Utah Military Academy four years ago, in his freshman year.
“I’ll be the first commissioned officer in my family,” Ross said.
But not all the cadets nominated come from military families.
Hallee Reese, 17, wanted to be an interior designer before participating in a summer camp hosted by veterans. She said that changed her life.
“I just felt it was something I needed to do,” Reese said. “I feel like I have a duty to serve.”
Reese, who only came to the Utah Academy for her senior year and is still waiting to be accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy, said she wants to be a pilot.
“I hope I get in,” Reese said. “It’s a big decision.”
Reese said adjusting to the school’s military style was hard at the beginning. She came from the public school system.
Major Kit Workman, Utah Military Academy commandant of cadets and one of the founders, said the school’s structure prepares the students to be successful in whatever they want, as long as the cadets work hard.
“I try to help guide them,” Workman said. “I’ve put together what I feel is a successful formula.”
That formula, Workman explained, is simple — a combination of strong academics, solid SAT scores and involvement in extracurricular activities.
That formula can make a student a nominee for one of the service academies. Seven is the highest number of yearly nominations the school has seen since opening four years ago.
The cadets nominated for West Point are Jaden Allison, Enoch Horning and Emma McGrath. Cadet Hyrum Hone is nominated for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Jaden Allison, 18, said he has always wanted to serve in the military. He is nominated for West Point.
“Of course I want to serve my country,” Allison said. “Most of my family say the earliest memory (they have) of me is wearing camo.”
He said he expects to get accepted into the academy and said Utah Military Academy has made him feel prepared for this next step.
“I’m not your typical person to get a nomination,” Allison said. “If you want something bad enough, you can go out and get it.”