FishHawk resident Andrew Fischer (far right) was one of eight students nominated by Congressman Vern Buchanan to receive an appointment to a service academy.

Tens of thousands of young people ran the gauntlet last year, completing applications from their senators or congressional representatives in the hopes of being given a nomination to one of the country’s five prestigious service academies: the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy or U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The academies are four-year postsecondary institutions that combine educational excellence with military officer training.

Receiving a nomination was only the first step in the process, though. The candidates then had to complete the rigorous application process to their chosen academy: complete the online application and medical examination, take a physical fitness assessment and be interviewed by an academy representative. A happy few, approximately 9.8 percent of applicants, are offered an appointment to an academy.

Eight students nominated by U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan received an appointment to a U.S. Service Academy. They are: Andrew Fischer of Newsome High School (appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy), Savannah Holt of Riverview High School (appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy) and Samantha Vest of Tabb High School in Sun City and Katherine Ward of Riverview High School (appointed to the U.S. Military Academy).

Students who are accepted receive a free four-year education in return for a commitment to serve five years in active-duty military after graduation.

“I congratulate these outstanding young men and women for their appointments,” said Buchanan. “I wish them the best of luck and have full confidence that they will serve our nation with honor.”

The next step on the students’ journeys is a type of basic training, an indoctrination program to guide their transformation from being civilians to military academy cadets or plebes prepared to enter the four-year officer commissioning program.

FishHawk resident Fischer said he has been preparing for this moment his entire life and is excited to begin his military career.

“I am going to be forever grateful to Congressman Buchanan for nominating me to the Academy,” said Fischer.

For more information about the process of applying to a service academy, visit or visit each respective academy’s website.

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MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.