A 17-year-old town resident received an up-close look at the Navy while attending a special summer program, and is now aiming higher: at a shot at the U.S. Naval Academy, one of the hardest colleges to get into in the country. Those who graduate receive a Bachelor of Science degree and go on to serve at least five years as commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.
Nicholas Lang, a student at Secaucus High School, participated in the U.S. Naval Academy Summer Seminar in Annapolis, Md., this past June.
Lang was one of the select group of 2,500 young men and women from around the nation and abroad invited by the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) to attend the Summer Seminar program this year. Summer Seminar is a fast-paced leadership experience for seniors in high school. The program helps educate, motivate and prepare students who are considering applying for admission to the USNA.
Life at the Academy
“Summer Seminar teaches prospective applicants about life at the Naval Academy, where academics, athletics, and professional training are key elements in developing our nation's leaders,” an academy spokesman said. “They experience first-hand what the Naval Academy has to offer through its academic, athletic, extracurricular activities, and leadership training programs.”
“It made me think 100 percent I wanted to go.” – Nicholas Lang
“You get a taste of what the Midshipmen go through in an academic year,” Lang said.
Group runs and exercises
A strict daily physical regimen was a big part of the training. Lang and his classmates had to endure group runs and conditioning exercises, and he was glad they did, so he could have an edge.
“You learn that it’s tough. You can’t go in there thinking it’s easy,” he said. “You don’t get a lot of sleep. You have to be on your ‘A’ game.”
But it was not all physical training for the attendees.
Academics a focal point
Academics were a major focus as well, with Lang attending eight 90-minute workshops covering subjects from oceanography, physics, and computer engineering to leadership, damage control, and battleship simulator. He also took a cruise aboard a Navy Yard Patrol Craft to apply what he had learned in class.
Great life experience
Naval Academy midshipmen led the Summer Seminar, with oversight from active-duty Navy and Marine Corps officers.
The soon-to-be high school senior said it was one of the best experiences of his life, and one that he learned a lot from.
“Everything is sentimental here,” he said. “You feel like a family. They have a lot of traditions. It’s very old and beautiful and eloquent.”
Striving for goal
Buoyed by his experience at the Summer Seminar, Lang has found what he thinks is his calling, and he is working to make his goal a reality.
“It confirmed my interest in joining the academy, if I get accepted,” Lang said. “It made me think 100 percent I wanted to go.”
The program was very meaningful for Nicholas, according to Lisa Lang, his mother.
“He spent the time there living as a plebe,” Lang said. “The Naval Academy engrossed the boys and the girls in the program, so they could get a full understanding of academy life. They took classes, trained, and ate as military unit.”
Nicholas was so enamored with the camp that he has already begun his work on getting accepted into Annapolis. He has applied to the academy for acceptance into the Class of 2018, with a major in cyber operations. He has also submitted his paperwork to receive nominations from U.S. Senators Jeff Chiesa and Robert Menendez, Congressman William Pascrell, and even Vice President Joseph Biden.
Naval Academy history
Founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy is the prestigious four-year college that prepares midshipmen morally, mentally and physically to be professional officers in the naval service.
All Midshipmen are on full scholarship and have a choice of 23 different majors. Additionally, they study small arms, drill, seamanship and navigation, tactics, naval engineering and weapons, leadership, ethics and military law as part of their education.
More than 4,000 men and women, representing every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries, make up the student body known as the Brigade of Midshipmen. Midshipmen learn from military and civilian instructors and participate in intercollegiate varsity sports and extracurricular activities.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.