By Alexandra Booth

For some students, life after high school can be unsure and unsettling. However, Jon Browning and Matt Baker have completed big accomplishments and have even bigger plans. They will be attending the United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, N.Y. and the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, M.D., respectively, this summer.

Starting at Randall Middle School, Browning and Baker did not become close friends until their freshman year at Strawberry Crest High School. They participated in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and challenged each other in competitions for both cross country and track and field. Both also had strong interests in joining the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) when they began sophomore year.

Interest in the military started within their families. Jim and Kathy Browning are 1981 USMA graduates and retired US Army officials, and Bob Baker is a retired US Nay official.

“Both boys were drawn to military life and the opportunities it presents, but their positive experience in the JROTC confirmed their decisions,” said Kathy Browning, Jon’s mother.

In the spring of their junior year, Jon and Baker began the process of applying to the academies. After submission, all candidates must also receive a nomination to the academy, normally from a United States Senator or Congressman, to be considered for acceptance. Jon received his nomination from Congressman Tom Rooney and Baker received his from Senator Marco Rubio.

Baker leaves for Annapolis on Tuesday, July 1 and Jon reports to West Point the following day.

Jon and Baker have great expectations and excitement.

“I’m excited about all of the challenges, academically and physically. That’s why I enjoyed the IB program,” Jon said.

According to Baker, he is “looking forward to Navy beating Army in football.”

Despite their sons attending different academies, Kathy said that she, along with the other parents, is very proud and excited for their sons.

“We expect that their friendship will last throughout their careers, even when their schools rival on the football field, Army versus Navy,” Kathy said.


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