FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 25, 2012 —
BY SAM URREA
Kai Hinton is a big step closer to fulfilling his life-long dream of becoming a naval aviator: the River City High School senior has been accepted into the United States Naval Academy.
An overachieving student and athlete for as long as he can remember, Kai has been chasing this goal from as early as age five.
“I used to visit my grandma in Hawaii when I was very little and I would spend hours reading naval history books and documentaries. Then, as I got older, I grew more and more interested in joining the navy. I wanted to commit forever,” said Kai.
Acceptance into the Naval Academy is no shoe-in. According to parchment.com, an educational data website, the number of applicants every year varies from 10, 000 to 20,000, with an average admission rate of only 8.4 percent in 2010. An applicant must have a G.P.A of at least 3.5, must be in the top 10% of his or her class, and must score at least 2100 on the SAT’s — at a minimum.
Participating in a sport and doing exceptionally well at it are essential. Performing community service and pursuing other extracurricular activities are not mandatory, but highly increase the chances of admission.
Kai met all of these requisites. He also obtained a required official nomination from a state representative — a long, difficult process to complete, Kai reports.
“I needed a total of three acceptance letters. Once I received my first letter, the second one had to be nominated and approved by a congressman. Congressman Mike Thompson was in charge of doing that, and once that was completed, I received my last letter confirming my admittance into the academy!” he said.
With that letter, his ambitious goal was finally met. Relatives from all over the country, including some who Kai claims he has rarely spoken to, called to congratulate him on his amazing achievement. His closer family members were nothing short of ecstatic.
Kai’s current Spanish teacher, David Ionescu, was not surprised by his student’s triumph. He said, “I’ve had Kai for three years and I was not surprised at all. He understands concepts before I even start teaching them. He is always one step ahead of the game.”
Kai himself was pretty confident. “I was positive. You know, there is always that doubt of not getting in because so few people get admitted but I believed in my abilities. I have done track my whole high school career and excelled, maintained a high G.P.A and done community service.”
He does not live by any mottos, but his advice for other students is to challenge themselves and commit to something they really like, not just if it’s the military, but for whatever goal they pursue. He said, “Make sure you know what you truly want, and commit yourself to it.”
With senior year coming to an end, most students will be looking forward to getting their high school diplomas and enjoying their summer vacation until the subsequent year approaches. Kai, however, is wasting no time moving forward with his life. Life at the academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland, starts in June. He will have roughly two weeks after his graduation to prepare himself to start life as a “plebe” — an incoming freshman at the high-pressure academy.
(Author Sam Urrea is an River City High School journalism student.)
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