The Class of 2020 has several notable achievements as the graduates head off to college in August, as noted in the previous eVision. Two of them are leaving even earlier — before the class celebrates its commencement — as they head off to the U.S. Naval Academy. Brigid Welch ’20 and Andrew Henderson ’20 head to Annapolis on July 1 and 2 for what is known as Plebe Summer in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year. They are starting a two-week self-quarantine now in order to join their 1,200 classmates for two weeks of restricted activity and four weeks of intense training.
Both said they are excited for the opportunity and have been preparing for some time, first to be accepted and then to be physically, mentally, and academically ready to succeed. Andrew has wanted to attend the academy since attending a baseball leadership summer camp there in junior high.
“I was impressed by how the midshipmen and the coaches there carried themselves with integrity and just the dedication I saw in that short amount of time, so ever since then I’ve wanted to attend,” he said.
From his freshman year, Andrew said, he was determined to keep his grades up as he participated in various sports to stay physically fit. The summer before his senior year, he was accepted into the academy’s summer seminar, which gave him a taste of the physical activity and discipline required of the program — and furthered his desire to attend.
“I knew it was very competitive to get in, so I just tried to focus on staying strong in school,” he said. “I participated in varsity athletics because the physical (aspect) is one of the things they try to develop as well as the mental.”
Additionally, he said, participating in the newly formed Honor Council also helped him prepare with its focus on honor and integrity, two important qualities emphasized at the academy.
Brigid, whose parents both were in different branches of the military, has had a longtime desire to follow in their footsteps. Her brother Brogan ’19 shares that attitude and received his appointment to the academy last fall. He will be a detailer during Plebe Summer and will be one of the staff shouting instructions and encouragement at the freshmen, although not likely Brigid or Andrew’s unit.
Brigid attended the Naval Academy Summer Seminar last summer as well as seminars for the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Air Force to help her decide which academy she wanted to attend. She applied to and received appointments from all three last fall and ultimately chose Navy for several reasons. First, the Naval Academy was her favorite among the three, and it still gives her an opportunity to become a pilot, should she decide on that route. Additionally, she will have the chance to become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps after receiving her college degree.
“It gives me a lot more opportunity to go in many different directions, so that was probably the biggest deciding factor,” Brigid said.
Brigid said she is looking forward to being part of the Naval Academy community as well, thanks to things her brother has shared with her from his experience.
“I leave in two weeks to go do some of the hardest work that I’ll ever do with a bunch of people I’ve not known, but if you ask me in eight weeks, they’ll be my best friends,” she said. “So it’s just the bond you make with those people.”
She also has followed advice her brother gave her since she learned of her appointment last fall, starting with increasing her physical activity, eating a healthy diet, and studying the academy’s mission statements, which also led to her improving her self-discipline. Like Andrew, she has been preparing throughout high school in various ways, including taking AP and honors classes while participating in three sports in order to develop her time management skills.
“I challenged myself to do as much as I can and also exceed in all those areas,” Brigid said. “I’m ready as I can be. … No one will be fully prepared for what the academy throws at you, but I think I’m on the right path.”
Brigid and Andrew will be purposefully placed in separate units, but they each said they will take comfort knowing the other one is going through the same intense activities.
Other recent alumni who have graduated from the Naval Academy include Brendan Jones ’07, Charmaine Solis ’14, and Patricia Mattingly ’15. It is a significant achievement for a school our size to have two appointments to the prestigious military college in one year following one the previous year.
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