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Turlock High students nominated to military service academies
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Turlock High senior Brett Hanson fell in love with the U.S. Military Academy in West Point after attending an Army versus Navy football game. - photo by Photo Contributed

U.S. Representative Jeff Denham announced this week the 2016 service academy nominees from California’s 10th congressional district, and among the 25 nominated, two Turlock High School students have received the honor.


“One of my greatest honors representing the Valley is nominating these young men and women to our nation’s service academies,” said Congressman Denham in a released statement. “Their patriotism and commitment to our country’s future is commendable, and I look forward to seeing their accomplishments in the years to come.”


Senior Brett Hanson was nominated to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Fellow senior Cody Jacobson was also nominated to the United States Naval Academy, as well as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York.


Students seeking attendance at one of the military academies must be nominated by a U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator or the Vice President. Nominees are selected through a rigorous application and interview process, and are chosen based on factors including academic achievement, leadership ability, physical aptitude, participation in extra-curricular activities and demonstration of character.


For Hanson and Jacobson, the nomination is just the first step in the process of achieving their dream of attending a military service academy. Both are awaiting word on their applications to their top choice schools – for Hanson, the U.S. Military Academy, and for Jacobson, the U.S. Naval Academy.


Hanson fell in love with the academy in West Point, from which both her father and uncle graduated, after visiting the campus and taking in an Army versus Navy football game.


“I visited West Point at the beginning of my junior year and fell in love with it,” said Hanson. “I liked the tradition that was there and the atmosphere.”


Jacobson, who has family members that have served in both the Army and Navy, has known that he wanted to go into the military since he was a child. It wasn’t until last year, however, that he decided the Naval Academy was the right choice for him.


“I love the history of it and all of the traditions there,” said Jacobson. “It’s so rich in history, and I like history so it would be really interesting to go there.”


Jacobson is the Commanding Officer of the NJROTC club at Turlock High, where he is responsible for managing and preparing events, as well as delegating responsibilities to others in the club. Hanson has been on the volleyball team for several years now, she said, where she has learned to work effectively as a member of a larger group working toward a common goal. Both extracurricular activities have prepared the pair for the rigors of the service academies, they said.


“I found myself talking a lot about volleyball and teamwork and all the things I’ve learned from it,” said Hanson of her nomination interview. “It’s something I can really draw from that I can take to the academy.”


Both Hanson and Jacobson received news of their nominations during a school day when they were called into their counselor’s office together. There, Congressman Denham was waiting on the phone to tell them the good news.


“He spoke to both of us individually, which was really cool,” said Jacobson.


For Hanson, the call verified that the effort she’s been putting into her schooling is finally coming to fruition.


“I realized that all of the hard work towards my grades and school had paid off,” she said. “Even making it this far is pretty good.”


If both students are accepted to their respective service academies, they hope to make a career out of their time in the military. Jacobson aspires to become a Naval pilot, while Hanson is interested in becoming an Army psychologist if she attends the U.S. Military Academy, or a Naval architect if she decides to attend the U.S. Naval Academy.


Though both were inspired by their family members who have served to apply for the service academies, there is one aspect of a future at one of the schools that particularly enticed Hanson.


“With the service academies, I like that everyone is helping out each other,” said Hanson. “At a civilian college, it’s everyone for himself.”