Clearfield siblings to attend Naval Academy|
Saturday, July 07, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
A brother and sister from Clearfield accomplished the rare feat of being accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in the same class.
Clearfield Area High School graduates Jack Mellgard, 19, and Juliana Mellgard, 18, both of Clearfield have enrolled in the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. as members of the Class of 2016. They left for Plebe training last Thursday but before they departed they spoke to The Progress about their accomplishment.
Plebe is the term given to all first year Midshipmen in the U.S. Naval Academy and Plebe training is analogous to basic training that enlisted personnel receive, Jack said.
When asked, they said they are the only brother and sister graduates of Clearfield Area High School that they know of to attend the Naval Academy, but they said it isn't unusual for siblings to attend the academy at the same time.
However, they admitted it is very unusual for non-twin siblings to attend the Naval Academy in the same class.
And it all came about by a "twist" of fate.
Jack had graduated from high school last year and was accepted into the Naval Academy in November of 2011.
However, on prom night, he broke his foot when he slipped after stepping on someone's dress on the dance floor. He was only one week from receiving his medical clearance from the academy but after he broke his foot, the academy asked him to wait until next year out of concern he wouldn't be able to perform the rigorous physical training demanded of incoming Midshipmen.
However, this put him in a bit of a quandary; because he was accepted into the academy so early, he hadn't applied to any other colleges.
He said this left him in bit of a panic because it was already June and he didn't have any place to go.
Jack said he didn't want to sit around for a year, and considered enlisting in the Navy but instead decided to go to prep school for a year to get a jump on the rigorous academic curriculum of the academy.
Jack was accepted into and attended the Hill School in Pottstown. He said it was just like going to college; he said he stayed in a dormitory, wrestled on the wrestling team while receiving an excellent education at the school.
He said his bad break ended up being a blessing in disguise because not only was he able to get a jump on his academics, he will now attend the academy in the same class as his sister who was also accepted.
Like her brother, Juliana said she was drawn to military service. Both siblings were multi-sport athletes in high school; Jack was a member of the football, basketball and track teams and Juliana was a member of the swimming, cross-country and track teams and both said they were drawn to the academy's emphasis on the athletics, academics, moral character and leadership.
Juliana said she also seriously considered attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point N.Y. and said it was a very difficult to choose between the two.
"It was very stressful, here you are as a 17-year old having to make a life-altering decision," Juliana said.
But she said she decided to go to the U.S. Naval Academy after attending its candidate camp last summer.
The academy holds the camp to give potential candidates a taste of what life will be like at the academy.
"After that, I knew that's where I wanted to go," Juliana said.
"The feeling you get when you are on campus is really hard to describe," Juliana said. "It definitely felt like home."
There are also practical reasons as well, with the Navy's global presence, it isn't experiencing the budget cuts the other branches of the military are experiencing, giving them more career opportunities, Jack said.
Plus they said it will be nice to have each other for support but Juliana said they won't be able to see each other as much as many people think because of the demands.
The academy's curriculum is much more rigorous than most colleges.
Although its academic year is nine months long, just as other colleges, Midshipmen are required to go six days a week, rather than the usual five. They are also required to take more academic credits than most colleges demand, in addition to their military and naval warfare classes, military training and leadership classes.
Plus, during the summer, they are required to go on two three-week deployments doing training at various jobs in the Navy, so instead of getting the usual three months of summer vacation that most college students get, Midshipmen get about three weeks.
Despite the demands, both said they have no regrets on going to the academy and are looking forward to careers in the Navy.
"I want to be a part of something larger than myself," Juliana said on her decision to go to the academy.
And Jack said he was inspired by students at Clearfield who also attended the Naval Academy as well as the other veterans in the area who served their country.
"They set the standard of service that I aspire to achieve," Jack said.