Newsome High senior Alexander Fraga faced a dilemma. While sitting in AP Macroeconomics class he glanced at his cellphone and noticed an email had come across from Congressman Vern Buchanan’s office. The moment had arrived when he would find out if he had received a nomination to the United State Merchant Marine Academy, his dream school.
He had to decide whether to open it or wait until he was home with his family.
“I saw a smiley face emoji in the title of the email and just couldn’t wait,” he said.
Fraga opened the email, and then he smiled. He had earned the nomination. “I was just so excited and trying not to disrupt class,” Fraga said.
In all, Buchanan made 22 nominations to the four U.S. service academies: the U.S. Air Force, Merchant Marine, Military and Naval Academies. Unlike other service academies, the Coast Guard Academy does not require a congressional nomination for admission.
Applicants who meet strict qualifications are interviewed and recommended by a nonpartisan service academy board appointed by the congressman.
In addition to Fraga, other local nominees include: Bell Creek Academy students Sebastian Correa to the United State Military Academy and Matthew Martinez to the United States Air Force Academy and United States Naval Academy; Durant High School student Austin Holcomb to the United States Air Force Academy; Sumner High School student David Tirado-Alonzo to the United States Military Academy and United States Naval Academy; Marion Military Institute cadet Francis Connor Dias of Lithia to the United States Military Academy and United States Naval Academy; Newsome High School students Colby Prince to the United States Naval Academy, Matthew Iocco to the United States Naval Academy and Cody Basquill to the United States Air Force Academy; and U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School cadets Ryan Matthews of Riverview, Yaideliz Lorenzo-Mendoza of Ruskin and Axeladiel Zengotita of Lithia to the United States Air Force Academy. Former United States Air Force Academy cadet Spencer Caceres, who left to serve a two-year church mission in Mexico, also received a nomination for re-entry to the United States Air Force Academy.
The nominees’ names are forwarded to the service academies where they were nominated and will be evaluated based on their academic and extra-curricular record, leadership skills, physical stamina and other requirements.
“Here in Florida’s 16th district, we are fortunate to have so many driven and courageous students willing to serve in our armed forces,” said Buchanan. “Each of the nominees is deserving of the privilege of attending one of our nation’s prestigious service academies. I wish each of my nominees the best of luck throughout the remainder of the selection process and look forward to their future success.”
For more information about Congressman Buchanan or the Service Academy nomination process, visit www.buchanan.house.gov.