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How Military Academies Pave the Path to Lifelong Success  

Parade of Cadets at West Point show how Military academies pave the path to lifelong success.
Homecoming Parade, West Point Military Academy, West Point, New York

Military academies pave the path to lifelong success. Getting into an academy can be challenging.  First, they only accept candidates who excel in academics and athletics. Then you need friends in high places and a solid nomination.  US Representative Kathy Castor recently nominated eight South Tampa high school students for acceptance in US military academies.  If accepted, these students get the opportunity to develop all the skills needed to be successful in every aspect of life.  Keep reading to learn the benefits of attending a military academy, what it takes to get it one, and the names of Kathy Castor’s nominees.

The Military Academy Experience Lays the Foundation

Life in a military academy is about more than just an education. It’s an immersive experience that provides the foundation needed to succeed. The cornerstones for the foundation include structure, focus, and leadership. Above all, academy life results in broad-based development that produces well-rounded individuals.


Military academy life is all about structure.  According to Forbes Magazine, underclassmen have a more structured schedule than typical college students.  Many students will be required to do mandatory activities from 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.  After they complete their scheduled activities, students must then complete their homework and study.

The structure establishes routines that become the backbone of recognized disciplines.  Routines include a set time to wake up, sleep, eat lunch, and have dinner. Most importantly, they establish a set amount of work hours per day.  They also reinforce consistently practiced good habits and establish a strong work ethic.  Everyone is more efficient when they have a consistent, structured schedule. 


The enhanced structure eliminates distractions.  It also allocates specific time each day for cadets to focus on their classes and study.  The results show in the graduation rates.  In the United States, 40 percent of undergraduate college students drop out. Most of them drop out in the first year.  In the US Naval Academy, however, 91.1 percent of all cadets graduate. 

Leadership Opportunities

All US Military academies develop leadership skills.  Formal leadership programs exist at all academies.  For example, the US Military Academy at West Point operates the West Point Leadership Center.  The Leadership Center concentrates on three areas or lines of effort:

  • Character and Leadership Development
  • Diversity and Inclusive Leadership
  •  Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The program includes a speaker series, conferences, and inter-collegiate exchanges. Therefore, they expose a wide range of leadership issues and styles.  In addition, the curriculum includes coursework in human and organizational behavior, facilitating coaching and mentoring, and the practice of reflection.

Broad-Based Development

The academies design curricula and other programs to develop the “whole person.”  Liberal arts education includes STEM, language, and communications skills.  In addition, experiential learning programs give cadets real-world experience and a broad perspective of the world.  The educational experience, combined with character, leadership, and discipline prepare graduates for a lifetime of accomplishment.

Career Opportunities Await

Along with the personal development rewards, military academy graduates also enjoy finding job opportunities waiting in post-military life.  It’s one of the main reasons why military academies pave the path to lifelong success. Businesses of all sizes actively recruit academy graduates.  Shannon Adams is an HR consultant. She is the President of Adams & Associates, NY. She shares why she has found candidates with military training desirable. “I have found many positive outcomes resulting from hiring candidates with military training.  Employers can benefit from the experience a Veteran brings to the workforce.  Their training typically includes intense physical training, academic and skills training, and socialization.”

Adams goes on to say,” When you hire a veteran or member of the military, the training you supply is built on top of a foundation that has already been set in the military.  Military service instills strong values, selfless service, and loyalty. These are desirable attributes in an employee.  In addition, the military cultivates leadership skills.  Individuals learn to take responsibility for their actions. They also make sound, fast decisions, and operate under pressure.  In contrast to “book smarts,” they have experiential learning skills such as resilience, coping skills, the ability to create camaraderie, and the importance of looking out for the welfare of their team.”

Strong Earning Potential

A pile of coins on top of a book in a library.  Military academy education pays off with big earnings potential.

Another payoff is the earning potential.  According to the Payscale College Salary Report, the US Naval Academy and West Point are among the top 10 best universities based on early and mid-career pay.  In addition, the Air Force Academy was ranked 20th.  Here is a chart:

AcademyAverage Starting PayAverage Mid-Career Pay
US Naval Academy$83,700$160,100
US Military Academy at West Point$84,200$154,300
US Airforce Academy$80,100$148,600
Source: payscale.com

Only the Best Get In

The process starts one year before the normal college admission process.  Each applicant must apply for nominations from a member of the US Congress, the Vice President of the United States, or other military personnel.  The applicants might also have to undergo a candidate fitness assessment depending on the academy.  This assessment is a six-event exam that tests physical strength and endurance.  Transcripts, test scores, recommendations, and a personal statement and also required. 

Kathy Castor, US Representative for the 14th District, recently announced her 2021 recommendations for admission to US Military Academies.   According to Castor, “I am proud to nominate a diverse, impressive group of students from the Tampa Bay area to attend our nation’s prestigious service academies,” said Castor.  “These dedicated students are the leaders of tomorrow, and I’m grateful for their commitment to serving our nation.

Eight of her recommendations are attending South Tampa High Schools:

NomineeHigh SchoolMilitary Academy
 Amani HaskinsRobinsonUS Military Academy at West Point
Ryan ManeyPlantUS Military Academy at West Point
Maxwell FullerRobinsonUS Military Academy at West Point
Madison LawrencePlantUS Naval Academy and West Point
Madeline FrankRobinsonUS Naval Academy
Sara ArroyaveRobinsonUS Air Force Academy
Katherine DingwallRobinsonUS Air Force Academy
Joseph PleinisPlantUS Air Force Academy

Everyone at Sunny South Tampa congratulates the nominees.  Castor says, “Tampa Bay is a patriotic community, and our committee members are devoted to developing bright young leaders that will shape the future of America’s armed forces and our nation.”

Castor will announce official appointments later this year. 

Leaders build Stronger Communities

There is no doubt the role military academies play in shaping leaders.  Military academies pave the path to lifelong success.  Some graduates accomplish extraordinary things.  For example, three of them have become Presidents of the United States.  Others run America’s biggest corporations, while others build impressive non-profit organizations.  Neighborhoods benefit when military academy graduations move in.  Not only do they bring a commitment to serving others, but their recognized disciplines can inspire their neighbors. 

Sunny Alexander and her husband Jordan are both graduates of the US Military Academy at West Point.  She owns the website Sunny South Tampa and is committed to building a stronger South Tampa community.  Therefore, this blog is all about building better connections, stronger neighborhoods, and issues facing our military community.  Read her inspirational story to learn more about Sunny. She is also a licensed Real Estate Broker focused on serving the unique needs of the military community.  Sunny dedicates her professional life to helping everyone find the home that’s right for them.  To get started finding your next home, visit her website, Sunny Sells Tampa, or call her at 931-237-6592.  At Sunny South Tampa, we are working to make South Tampa stronger, together!

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