Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 18, 2014

You’re in–Now What?

meagMost candidates have heard from USNA. If you are one of the 1,000+ who got an offer, and you accepted, you’re wondering what to do with yourself until I-Day at the end of June. This webpage on USNA.edu will provide black and white details, but there’s so much more. A question I often get from women concerns women in a male world. How’s that work?

I asked a recent USNA graduate to help me on that. Lt. Meaghan Murray graduated in 2008, served on the USS Bunker Hill and then the newly-commissioned USS San Diego for her two sea tours, and now is assigned to Washington DC for her stateside tour–the last mandatory assignment before she makes the choice to stay in or become a civilian–and will start an MBA program at University of Maryland. Here’s her advice to women:

Ok, you got in!  Cheer up, that wasn’t the hard part.  There are a million ways to mess it up now.  You’re not a big fish in a small pond anymore.  Everyone is Type A and out to succeed.  We operate like a team and look out for each other, but we all need to individually get through the same obstacles, too.  It’s unfortunately common these days for women to play dumb.  DON’T!  No one respects dumb people at USNA.  People who earn the greatest respect are the ones who get the grades, run the fastest, tell the funniest stories, ooze charisma, and seem to do it all effortlessly.  Basically, at USNA we are so used to operating in a world where you out perform the people around you that the way to earn respect is to outperform the out performers.  You have to be more than a jack of all trades; you have to be a master of all trades.  But trust me, you’ll be better for it!  Never settle.  Always look for your deficiencies (won’t have to try hard because the upperclassmen will be there to point them out to you) and ALWAYS fix them before they snowball.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 16, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Tech Sgt. Charles Coolidge

Tech Sgt. Charles CoolidgeTech Sgt. Charles Coolidge
U.S. Army 92 years old from Chattanooga, Tennessee
3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division

Tech Sgt. Charles Coolidge was born in 1921 in Tennessee, where he still lives and works in the family business. In 2006 he was awarded the Légion d’honneur by officials of the French consulate.

From his Medal Of Honor citation:
Leading a section of heavy machine guns supported by 1 platoon of Company K, he took a position near Hill 623, east of Belmont sur Buttant, France, on October 24, 1944, with the mission of covering the right flank of the 3d Battalion and supporting its action. T/Sgt. Coolidge went forward with a Sergeant of Company K to reconnoiter positions for coordinating the fires of the light and heavy machine guns. They ran into an enemy force in the woods estimated to be an infantry company. T/Sgt. Coolidge, attempting to bluff the Germans by a show of assurance and boldness called upon them to surrender, whereupon the enemy opened fire. With his carbine, T/Sgt. Coolidge wounded 2 of them. There being no officer present with the force, T/Sgt. Coolidge at once assumed command. Many of the men were replacements recently arrived; this was their first experience under fire. T/Sgt. Coolidge, unmindful of the enemy fire delivered at close range, walked along the position, calming and encouraging his men and directing their fire. The attack was thrown back. Through 25 and October 26, the enemy launched repeated attacks against the position of this combat group but each was repulsed due to T/Sgt. Coolidge’s able leadership. On October 27, German infantry, supported by 2 tanks, made a determined attack on the position. The area was swept by enemy small arms, machine gun, and tank fire. T/Sgt. Coolidge armed himself with a bazooka and advanced to within 25 yards of the tanks. His bazooka failed to function and he threw it aside. Securing all the hand grenades he could carry, he crawled forward and inflicted heavy casualties on the advancing enemy. Finally it became apparent that the enemy, in greatly superior force, supported by tanks, would overrun the position. T/Sgt. Coolidge, displaying great coolness and courage, directed and conducted an orderly withdrawal, being himself the last to leave the position. As a result of T/Sgt. Coolidge’s heroic and superior leadership, the mission of this combat group was accomplished throughout 4 days of continuous fighting against numerically superior enemy troops in rain and cold and amid dense woods.
These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here. Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 15, 2014

April To Do List for USNA Applicants

usna

Get into USNA

Depending upon where you are in the process, you may have done some of the items on this list. Skip them. Be happy you’re done. Move on to the next

First Steps:

If you’re serious about attending the USNA or any other military academy, buy a few books (or check them out of the library) on the process. It’s worth the investment because if you pursue this dream, you will be investing much more of your time and money before you achieve your goal. Better to make sure this is the direction you want to go.

Here are two books to get you started:

From the perspective of a woman who was accepted and how she accomplished it. Down-to earth, personal, definitely not dry, and should give confidence to any teen, male or female, considering a military academy their first choice college.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 14, 2014

Headed for USNA? Prepare Yourself Part IV

Here’s a summary of what your senior year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she did

building a midshipmanfor the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

  • You spend a week at the Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar
  • You spend a week at the Air Force’s Summer Seminar
  • You take the mandatory health class—required to graduate (you sneak it in the eight days between NASS and UND Summer Science Program)
  • You spend three weeks at the University of Notre Dame’s Summer Science program
  • You spend a month with your UCI mentor completing background for your science project
  • You complete the Siemens Westinghouse Science and Technology project—“Genotypic and Phenotypic Variation
  • Between Brassica rapa Populations on the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate”
  • You sign up for two more SAT examinations, giving you a last chance at the best score possible. And, you study as much as you can in your summer free time
  • You get your driver’s license

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 11, 2014

USNA Weekly News

Every week, I publish a newsletter with the latest information on USNA and related articles. Click the image below to read. When you’re there, feel free to share it with friends and subscribe so you receive it in your mailbox weekly:

USNA Weekly News–click to access

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 10, 2014

STEM at USNA

stemSummer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), is a week-long, overnight camp at USNA each June. It is available to students who are currently in the 7th-10th grades. Applications close April 15th. All applicants are notified by May 1st.

Here’s information from the USNA website:

Engineering is all about creating, building, and making things better! So what does it take to be an engineer? If you like math and science, you are off to a great start. If you enjoy discovering new things, solving problems, and learning how things work – even better! Creativity, persistence, and the desire to make the world a better place are also important qualities. Becoming an engineer requires hard work and a good education. Our summer program will be a great start to your career in science and engineering.

Top 5 Reasons to Attend the USNA Summer STEM Program!

  1. Gain exposure to the number five ‘Best Undergraduate Engineering Program’ in the country, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
  2. Spend time in world-class lab facilities that provide a unique learning environment outside the traditional classroom.
  3. Experience real-life application of math and science principles through hands on practical learning.
  4. Meet like-minded students who share a similar interest in technology and engineering.
  5. Because a short time at STEM can inspire a lifetime of learning!!!

Eligibility Requirements

The Naval Academy Summer STEM Program is offered to rising 8th-11th Graders. Students must demonstrate superior academic performance to include GPA, class standing, and/or strong PSAT, SAT or ACT results.  Selection is based in large part on ensuring geographic representation along with overall accomplishments in and out of the classroom.  Application will close April 15th.  All applicants will be notified of their status by May 1st.   

Tuition and Expenses

All students selected to participate will be required to provide a nominal fee of approximately $350 which will include room and board, meals, as well as a variety of materials. Plan on bringing extra cash for snacks and souvenirs.

Each student is responsible for arranging transportation to and from the Naval Academy. Those flying commercial air should make arrangements to arrive at Baltimore-Washington International airport (BWI) between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Day 1 of the program, and depart after 3:00 p.m. on the last day of the program. Buses and midshipmen escorts will be on hand to get you to and from the Academy and BWI.

More information? View the Summer STEM website!

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular  Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, an ISTE article reviewer, a weekly contributor to Write Anything and mother of a Naval Officer and an Army grunt. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a military thriller that she just finished. Any ideas? Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 9, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Maj. Richard Bong

Maj. Richard BongMaj. Richard Bong
U.S. Army Air Force 24 years old from Poplar, Wisconsin
49th Fighter Group, V Fighter Command
September 25, 1920 – August 6, 1945

Maj. Richard Bong is the United States’ highest-scoring air ace, having shot down at least 40 Japanese aircraft during World War II. He was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. All of his aerial victories were in the P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft.

You can read more on Maj. Bong here

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here. Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 8, 2014

How to Make Your Chance of Acceptance 70%

This may surprise you, but if you can fulfill the USNA listed requirements, they’ll probably take you. It’s not like so many of the other Ivy Leagues where you have to be a magician to be accepted (think Harvard). Here, most candidates drop out of competition for the 1,000 slots when they don’t fulfill the very long list of requirements. Look at the statistics (as general numbers):

usna admissions

This is not to say getting the official nomination, and becoming scholastically/medically/physically qualified is easy. Of course not. USNA doesn’t do ‘easy’. But, there is a way, with steps to get you there.

Keep reading this blog. We’ll tell you how.


Follow USNA or Bust on Twitter

Jacqui Murray wrote the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and a freelance journalist of tech ed topicsCurrently, she’s editing a military thriller that should be out to publishers this summer.

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 7, 2014

Candidate Visit Weekend

From the USNA Website:candidate visit weekend

Candidate Visit Weekend (CVW) is a program conducted aboard USNA during the Fall and Spring academic semesters to expose candidates to all facets of life as a Midshipmen. CVW is an opportunity to sample university-level academics at USNA, to discover whether the Naval Academy will help you achieve your goals, and to offer valuable insight into the admissions process.

CVW is offered by invitation only throughout the academic year. Invitations are largely based on the level of completion of your application.

PS That’s my son in the boat!

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 4, 2014

USNA Weekly News

Every week, I publish a newsletter with the latest information on USNA and related articles. Click the image below to read. When you’re there, feel free to share it with friends and subscribe so you receive it in your mailbox weekly:

USNA Weekly News–click to access

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 2, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Sgt. Greg N. Riewer

Sgt. Greg N. Riewer Sgt. Greg N. Riewer
U.S. Army 30 years old from Frazee, Minnesota
2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division
March 23, 2007
Sgt. Greg N. Riewer, 28, of Frazee, was killed while on patrol March 23, 2007 in Fallujah with soldiers from the Bemidji-based Company A, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry, when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb, the Guard said.

“The loss of Sgt. Riewer is a tragedy,” Maj. Gen. Larry Shellito, the adjutant general of Minnesota, said in a statement. “He was proudly serving his state and nation in a combat zone when he was taken from us.”

You can read more about Sgt. Riewer here

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here. Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 31, 2014

Headed for USNA? Prepare Yourself Junior Year HS

Here’s a summary of what your junior year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she did for

usna

How to crack the USNA application

the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

Half way there! As much time remains to reweave the frayed edges of your goals as you’ve had to unravel them. Two more years! You’re tired of studying, but feel good about what you’ve accomplished. This is the year you commit yourself to the IB program (and you’ll have to apply for a scholarship to pay for it). Your schedule for this summer:

  • Finish your IB Spanish requirement by taking summer school at the local community college. By July, you realize that it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.
  • Take Economics—a required course to graduate high school. This will help with Academic Decathlon next year and free up your senior year schedule (you already have eight classes scheduled for first semester).
  • No surprise that your friends take both Economics and IB Spanish with you—everyone trying to make room for classes.
  • No soccer—you retired. Too many classes.
  • Practice your violin. Another academic year of insufficient violining. By the end of this summer, after putting lots and lots of practice time in, you must decide if there’s a chance to pursue violin at the college level.
  • Find a mentor for your science project. You meet with one of the University of California biology department heads, and he agrees to assist. Now you must collect the required raw data, and determine the workability of your project. You are surprised that none of your friends attempt this prestigious competition. It’s not only the opportunity to accomplish independent research; it’s the chance to be noticed by the outstanding universities that participate in the judging.  As you work on this project, you hear from an acquaintance attending the California Institute of Technology.  He tells you that most incoming Cal Tech freshmen completed independent science research in high school and he wishes he had.

Junior year summer, decisions must be made. You assess where you stand in meeting your goals:

  • On track for the Naval Academy 
  • On track for the University of Notre Dame
  • On track for other top college choices

 You visit a lot of colleges to cull what you like and dislike about the college experience. Tradition is important, as well as quality of professors, class size, and availability of up-to-date teaching materials. You want a residential approach—where most students live on campus all four years. And, it’s important that you can get a job at the completion. Do corporations respect the quality of graduate, and/or does the college market their graduates to the business community? Because of your family’s experiences, unemployment has become a great motivator. Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 28, 2014

USNA Weekly News

Every week, I publish a newsletter with the latest information on USNA and related articles. Click the image below to read. When you’re there, feel free to share it with friends and subscribe so you receive it in your mailbox weekly:

USNA Weekly News–click to access

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 26, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Maj. Thomas McGuire

Maj. Thomas McGuire Jr.Maj. Thomas McGuire Jr.
U.S. Air Force 24 years old from Sebring, Florida
475th Fighter Group
August 1, 1920 – January 7, 1945

On January 7, 1945, McGuire was leading a group of four P-38s – himself, Major Jack Rittmayer (four victories), Captain Edwin Weaver (two victories) and Lieutenant Douglas Thropp (one victory) – on a fighter sweep over northern Negros Island in the central Philippines. Their aim was to gain victories. McGuire desperately wanted to pass Major Richard Bong’s score of 40 kills. Descending through cloud cover, McGuire’s flight circled a Japanese airfield at Fabrica and then proceeded to a second airstrip at Manapla (also referred to as Carolina). As they approached Manapla, they were confronted by a lone Ki-43 “Oscar”, which immediately engaged McGuire’s flight.You can read more about Maj. McGuire here

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here. Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 25, 2014

Medal of Honor Day

March 25 is Medal of Honor Day – when we pay respects to service members who distinguished themselves through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty”. Citations for Medal of Honor recipients describe feats of courage, strength, and resilience. Recipients overcame the paralysis of fear, and in some cases, they persevered in spite of wounds that would normally be so painful as to be disabling. Some of these heroes willingly gave their lives for the sake of their buddies.

From my friends over at ArmyLive , here are eight surprising facts about the award.

1. The earliest actions for which the Medal was awarded took place before the Civil War had even begun (Feb. 13-14, 1861).  Bernard J.D. Irwin was an Assistant Surgeon in the Army when he voluntarily went to the rescue of 2d Lt. George N. Bascom who was trapped with 60 members of the 7th Infantry. Irwin and 14 men began the 100-mile trek to Bascom’s forces riding mules. After fighting and capturing Apaches along the way, as well as recovering stolen horses and cattle, Irwin reached Bascom’s forces and helped break the siege. The Medal of Honor was awarded to Irwin on Jan. 24, 1894 – more than 30 years after he performed his heroic deed.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 24, 2014

You’re a Sophomore and Interested in USNA?

Here’s an overview and a check list for what you want to accomplish this year (reprinted with sophomorepermission from Building a Midshipman):

For many college entrance requirements, sophomore year starts the academic record- /GPA-/placement in the class-countdown. But not the Naval Academy. They count Freshman-Sophomore-Junior year. Senior year only counts for applicants on the scholastic bubble. This summer, like last summer, will be spent on scholarly pursuits, repairing damage and preparing for sophomore year.

  • Develop a plan of action for the next twenty-four months designed to correct freshman year flaws and insure the accomplishment of your dreams. You post it on the wall above your desk. Every time you sit down to do homework, you’ll see those goals, remember those reasons, and study harder.
  • Retake Geometry over the summer. Your confidence in your math and science abilities fractured after Honors Geometry and this will reinforce what you did learn while backfilling what you didn’t understand
  • Drop to non-honors Algebra II and non-honors chemistry for sophomore year. These fit your aptitude better and you hope will allow you a better chance to absorb the material
  • Play summer soccer with the District’s soccer league. You’re aiming for Varsity next year, so spend this time ironing out shots on goal, dribbling, and perfecting soccer strategy. You practice four days a week, play ten games, and get to know teammates and coaches. A good investment of time.
  • Recommit yourself to violin. Dedicate several hours of each summer day to practice, and reevaluate next year. You had a few setbacks with your violin. You didn’t qualify for All-State, and because of the shortened weekly practice (studying for classes took a lot more time than you had planned), you didn’t progress sufficiently in the classical repertoire required for college auditions. Still, this summer can make a difference. Violin gives a voice to your ‘other’ self buried beneath math formulas and memorized facts.
  • Research the fundamental premise of your science project. DNA has intrigued you since seventh grade. Read about singalization, hybridization, plate tectonics and paleogeology, and try to puzzle out your hypothesis.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 21, 2014

USNA Weekly News

Every week, I publish a newsletter with the latest information on USNA and related articles. Click the image below to read. When you’re there, feel free to share it with friends and subscribe so you receive it in your mailbox weekly:

USNA Weekly News–click to access

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 19, 2014

Wednesday Hero: Maj. Don Beerbower

Maj. Don BeerbowerMaj. Don Beerbower
U.S. Air Force 22 years old from Hill City, Minnesota
353d Fighter Squadron, 354th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force
August 26, 1921 – August 9, 1944

A fighter pilot who has brought down five or more enemy aircraft was called a flying ace. From December 1943 to Aug. 9, 1944, Beerbower became a triple ace, shooting down more than 15 German planes, making him the second highest ace in the 9th Air Force.

Due to pilot losses and Beerbower’s own advancements based on flying and leadership skills, Beerbower was promoted to major and made squadron commander in June 1944 — less than nine months after his arrival in Europe. At only 22 years old, he already was a great fighter pilot, respected and liked by the men in his squadron.You can read more about Maj. Beerbower here

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here. Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 17, 2014

Headed for USNA? Prepare Yourself–Freshman Year HS

Here’s a summary of what your freshman year in high school might resemble if your goal for college is USNA. This is based on the real experiences of a successful Naval Academy applicant, what she did for the four years of high school to make sure she was offered a slot at the college of her choice:

Lou Holtz, the University of Notre Dame’s erudite ex-coach, once exhorted, “How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.”

usna applicants

How to crack the Naval Academy application

High School is like the second half, and you’re about to find out if you’re a winner. At this uncertain precipice, all students are equal, crossing the freshman threshold with the same opportunities, and same possibilities for their future. The 4.0 student stands shoulder to shoulder with the star athlete, and the C student who aspires to nothing more than minimum wage work has an equal chance that inspiration will strike. Every one approaches the starting line, not knowing if the race will be won with brains, hard work, willpower, or intensity of desire. All over the country, freshman year equates to making decisions and growing up. Too many changes to think about where to go to college!

But, if you believe that—which you don’t—you’ve missed the opportunity to judiciously select the first steps and the first path leading to your future.

Over the summer, you try to organize the next four years:

  • Set up an Excel spreadsheet to track high school accomplishments. Whatever college you apply for will require a list of accomplishments during high school. It includes categories for ‘Academics’, ‘Awards and Honors’, ‘Sports’, ‘Community Service’, ‘Leadership’, and ‘General Information’ (See the Appendix for an example of Maggie’s spreadsheet). You record everything—no matter how insignificant they seem at the time (even the first place trophy for the twice-delayed Egg Drop Contest), because what seemed important several years ago blurs with the passage of time.
  • Sign up for the twelve-game high school summer soccer league. You love soccer, not yet discouraged by losses, internal politics, poor coaching or insufficient play time. Your achievement in this violent sport derives from hard work rather than raw talent (unlike the enduring success you enjoy playing classical violin).
  • Practice practice practice your violin, tweaking accomplished repertoire and disciplining de rigueur pieces for orchestral try-outs, performances and college auditions. You are well-familiar with conventional repertoire like ‘Meditation de Thais’ and Lalo’s ‘Symphonie Espagnole’, but some of the classics from Bach and Vivaldi take years to perfect. At this confluence of childhood and maturity, the string community in your area already claims you as a public school success story. You have been selected for many Honor Orchestras, concertmaster at your middle school (and about-to-be the first freshman concertmaster of the high school orchestra), and first violin with Pacific Symphony’s youth orchestra.
  • This life-decision has yet to be made:  Do you pursue your passion for music, or an academic path pursuing your equivalent love of science and math? Not a decision a fourteen-year old need make the summer before her freshman year in high school. At this juncture, you still pursue both—playing in three local orchestras while beginning independent research for the Siemens Westinghouse Science Competition—due early your senior year.
  • Retake Algebra to help your GPA (got an A the second time). You know your high school classes will be crazy.
  • Take a practice SAT 
  • Read recommended classical literature.

Read More…

Posted by: Jacqui Murray | March 14, 2014

Physical Prep for Plebe Summer

Do you wonder what hoops you need to be prepared to jump through during Plebe Summer? Here’s what USNA recommends to prepare yourself for those weeks of physical fury:

http://www.usna.edu/PlebeSummer/_files/documents/2013/2017%20Exercise%20Routine.pdf

Read More…

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