SENECA – Seneca Township High School's auditorium became a beacon Monday morning to students interested in joining and supporting the United State's Armed Forces.
Luke Jackson, a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, spoke to several young adults about their plans and opportunities.
Sporting a freshly shaved head and formal Navy attire, Jackson chatted with interested students. Jackson, a 2011 graduate of Seneca High School, shared a few positive experiences from his time in the Naval Academy, as well as educational videos and literature.
"For me, one of the best things to come out of my experience has been the friends I have made," Jackson said. "I still have really close friends back here, but the group of guys in my squad have become like brothers to me. There's a certain level of understanding we share because of the experiences and suffering we've all endured together."
Jackson explained the candidate cycle and admission process, which includes tests of mental and physical fortitude as well as nomination by members of state and federal government.
"The academy is very physically and mentally demanding; however, making it through freshman year was an extremely rewarding experience for me," Jackson said. "It's a big adjustment and making it through felt really good and was a big deal for me."
Students could ask about day-to-day schedules while attending the academy, application requirements and other aspects of the process, from being accepted to graduation.
"The Navy really likes to have well-rounded individuals," Jackson said. "They don't just look for people who are athletic or intellectual. It helps to have a wide skill set and the academy looks to give that to people."
Student Samuel Mitchell attended the meeting and left with a new outlook on Maryland's Naval Academy, as well as his future with the Armed Forces.
"It was cool to get to hear someone from our area that made it through the program," he said. "It makes it seem a little more real."
Jackson, a history major, will graduate in the spring with a bachelor's of science because of the extra programs and training offered by the academy. Jackson was recently commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant for the Marines, to continue his service.
"The service aspect of the Navy is what drew me in the most," Jackson said. "It's really exciting to have these great options and possibilities for the future."