“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question has been posed to me since as long as I can remember, and possibly back to even Kindergarten. I always felt a little behind my peers because I did not have an answer for that question. A teacher? A doctor? A lawyer? I had no idea. Flash forward to the summer before my Freshman year of high school. I was a shy, quiet kid who had a few friends and didn’t consider myself to be majorly outgoing, though far from an introvert. Right before school was out for the summer, our high school JROTC cadets came to my classroom for a presentation on the program in general and some of the teams offered. The Raider team caught my interest and before I knew it, I was sitting in my mother’s car getting ready to go into the first practice. My lack of confidence nearly overcame me that morning. I didn’t know any of these other cadets and I was smaller for my age at the time. I learned the first of many valuable lessons I would discover that day sitting in the front seat of my mother’s car. I remember saying, “I feel a little nervous. I don’t think I can go in.” My mother, who is indeed an extrovert, looked at me and patiently stated, “You’ve looked forward to this for several weeks and you’ve been very excited. You have to at least go in and give it a try. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back, but you have to go in one time.” I went in. I didn’t miss a practice all summer, and the lesson I learned first that day was you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try. I started to form an idea of “what” I wanted to be when I grow up: I wanted to be brave. That very practice is a very important part of my life. I faced a team of peers who I did not know and knew nothing about me, yet they believed in me. Though I was very small at that time in my life, one cadet, *******-who also happened to be the Battalion Commander, looked and me, poked me in the chest, and stated, “it’s about what’s in here. You may not be the biggest kid here, but you’ve got a lot of heart.” I added a piece of the puzzle. I wanted to be strong. Not just physically strong, but the kind of strong that could motivate a nervous kid to show up again the next day believing he mattered and could be an asset. I wanted to be part of a team, yes. I also wanted to be like Andrew New. I wanted to be a leader. From that day on, I didn’t focus as much on “what” I wanted to be. I thought much harder about “who” I wanted to be. As I began my Freshman year of high school, I became very focused on so many things that hadn’t been as important to me before knowing “who” I wanted to be. I started running and became competitive not only with my Raider team, but also earning a Varsity letter in Track. I did pushups and sit-ups until my body ached and aspired to improve each time. During JCLC camp with over 200 cadets, I earned the overall leadership award. I ranked up in my JROTC battalion, and I did so very quickly. At the end of my Sophomore year, I had been nominated to the S-3 position to serve my Junior year as the second Junior in our school’s history to earn that position. I will begin my Senior year in the next two months as the Battalion Commander of our program and also the XO of our competitive and award winning Raider team. These are all accomplishments I’m proud of, but the lessons and meanings behind each achievement mean the most to me. They are the moments that have continued to pave the way in my search of “who” I want to be. During my high school years I’ve been privileged to be a servant through these achievements. Each Thanksgiving, my battalion spends the day before Thanksgiving preparing food boxes for underprivileged members of my community. We spend Thanksgiving day delivering meals to those who cannot provide their own due to finances, hardships, or health issues. This is a tremendous honor to serve my community and something I enjoy and look forward to every year. I have also participated in at least two roadside trash pick ups each year and I appreciate each “thank you” members of the community send out. I love being of service to others, and I simply cannot imagine a greater honor than being of service to my country that I love and my fellow man who I also love. When I read about the history of this great country I am left in awe and humble honor and admiration of the great men and women who sacrificed and fought for me to have such an opportunity as to attend the United States Naval Academy. This summer, just this month, I was honored to be selected to attend the first Summer Seminar at the United States Naval Academy. It took me a few months to come down from the feeling I had when I read the acceptance e-mail, and when I did it was time to go to Annapolis. I had read a little online and researched the program, but nothing prepared me from the overwhelming feeling of gratitude to just stand on the yard with the finest men and woman who prepare to serve this country every single day. The days were full of activities and learning opportunities that I loved immensely. I soaked in every one of them and knew that I was enjoying this life experience. On the plane ride home after the closing ceremony, all the pieces of the puzzle were together for me. Over the past three years the Navy has been at the forefront of my aspirations, but that closing day I knew “who I wanted to be when I grew up.” I want to be a Midshipman. My great-grandfather was a Marine. Many members of my family followed his example in both the Army and the Air Force. There are so many members of my family who have sacrificed so much for their families and their country. It is my humble aspiration to join their legacies and their examples with my own, but I would like to do that with the duty, the honor, and the loyalty I feel I would greatest attain at the United States Naval Academy.