Congressman Vern Buchanan poses with some of this year’s appointees, including (from left to right) Luke Plesko, Aravind Rajeev, Jack Thomas, Landon Shepard, Maria Teresa Castillo Salom and Michael Rossi.

Congressman Vern Buchanan recently announced that 13 students nominated by Buchanan have received an appointment to a U.S. service academy.

“I congratulate these outstanding young men and women for their appointments,” said Buchanan. “They should take pride in having successfully competed with so many students from across the country. It is an honor not only for them but for all who have supported them along the way. I wish them the best of luck and have every confidence that they will serve our nation with distinction.”

Each year, members of the House and Senate nominate senior high school students they represent for admission to the U.S. Air Force, Merchant Marine, Military and Naval academies. Applicants who meet strict qualifications are interviewed and recommended by a nonpartisan Service Academy Board appointed by the congressman.

Students nominated by Buchanan from Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties received appointments. The following local students nominated by Buchanan received an academy appointment for the fall:

Tampa Catholic High School graduate Maria Teresa Castillo Salom of Riverview received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

Newsome High School graduate Tyler Edwards of Valrico received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

Newsome High School graduate Luke Plesko of Apollo Beach received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.

“I am highly honored to be nominated by Congressman Buchanan because he trusts me to represent and defend this country,” said Castillo Salom.

When asked about how she came to choose the Naval Academy, Castillo Salom explained, “I attended the Naval Academy and West Point summer seminars to experience life at the academies. After attending both summer seminars, I realized that the Naval Academy was the best fit for me. I fell in love with every aspect of the academy, from the discipline to the camaraderie. Being accepted into the Naval Academy is a dream come true. When I received my appointment, my family and I shed tears of joy. Upon graduating from the academy, I plan on commissioning into the Marine Corps.”

The U.S. service academies are four-year post-secondary institutions that combine educational excellence with military officer training. Students accepted to the academies receive a free four-year education in return for a commitment to serve five-years in the active-duty military after graduation.

For more information about the appointment process, visit each service academy’s website. For information about applying for a nomination to a service academy, visit

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