Catholic grads head to US service academies

Many apply, few get in. That could be the motto of the U.S. service academies.

According to statistics, 19,000 students across the nation applied to the military schools, and only 1,300 were admitted, said Karah Viola, director of college guidance at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville.

Three of those students are from Catholic schools in the diocese. Carl Joiner from Cardinal Newman School in Columbia and Elizabeth Works from Bishop England High School in Charleston were both accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., while Caitlin Rowe from St. Joseph’s Catholic School gained admission into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

All of the students received recommendations from Sen. Jim DeMint.

Sallie Tompkins, director of guidance and college counseling at Bishop England, said being accepted into a military academy is a very big deal.

“It’s not the same as going into the service,” she said. “The requirements are really, really stringent in every aspect.”

The three Catholic school students were all described as being at the top of their class academically, leaders in school and the community, avid athletes and devoted volunteers.

Caitlin, who is going to West Point, said she has no experience with military life but is excited about attending the school.

She believes the academy will challenge her to exceed her limits academically, athletically and spiritually.

“I feel like I’m definitely going to be leaning on God a lot,” she said.

One of the requirements of the institutions is participation in athletics.

Caitlin said she has played soccer all her life, but is planning to try something new, such as cheerleading or an intramural sport.

Upon graduation, each student is required to serve a minimum of five years of active duty as a commissioned officer. Carl said he plans to major in math while at the Naval Academy and hopes to be commissioned as an officer in the Marines.

“I was really happy and relieved when I learned that I had gotten an appointment,” he said. “I was glad that all my work was not in vain and that I was surely going to be there next year.”

Elizabeth said she wants to choose an officer career path that will allow her to travel and see the world. Her interest in the school was sparked last summer when she attended a Naval Academy seminar.

“The Naval Academy will give me the opportunity to serve my country as well as provide me with experiences that will teach me responsibility and independence,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Miscellany.

Caitlin is also looking forward to serving her country and is considering a career in military intelligence.

“It will be one of the best experiences of my life, hopefully,” she said.