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The United States Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland, is a four-year military college that prepares students to become leaders to serve the nation.

Bismarck High School senior Jack Gasper underwent the rigorous application process for acceptance into the military program to become a naval officer.

Attending the U.S. Naval Academy has always been in the forefront of Gasper’s mind since he comes from a strong military family.

“I grew up around the Marine Corps, my dad is in the Marines, and that kind of introduced me into the Naval Academy,” Gasper said. “The Naval Academy has always been one of the colleges that my family has looked up to.”

Gasper, who will be the first among his family to attend the Naval Academy, was primarily focused on acceptance into the academy throughout his high school career.

“I was focused on getting into the Naval Academy, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be accepted, so I also applied to several other schools, North Dakota schools and the University of Minnesota,” Gasper said.

The application process, which Gasper explained as not necessarily a difficult process, just time-consuming, took several months.

“I started my initial application in May of my junior year, and I finished it in the beginning of September,” Gasper said.

The application process for admission into the Naval Academy is intensified by the time consumed to compile all the necessary information and forms.

“You have to get two letters of recommendation, one from your English teacher and one from your math teacher; you have to have a recommendation from your school counselor as well,” Gasper said. “You have to fill out an activities record, two essays, fitness tests, you get a medical exam, you also have an interview, and you also have to apply to a nomination, which is also time consuming.”

After submission of the application, and the fitness and medical testing at the end of this past September, Gasper underwent the nomination process, which led to interviews. Gasper, who applied for all the possible nominations, received a Congressional Principle Nomination, a Competitive Senatorial Nomination and a Presidential Nomination.

“So you apply to a nomination through your congressman’s office, the two senators, and if you have parents in the military you can also get a nomination that way. And you can also apply for vice president nominations, and there’s other sources as well,” Gasper said. “I got a nomination from (Rep.) Kevin Cramer and (Sen.) Heidi Heitkamp.”

Competing against people in his own state, which consisted of other worthy students who received nominations from the same congressman and senator, Gasper was chosen by the Naval Academy out of many applicants.

“It was March 12 when I got the call from Congressman Cramer saying that I was accepted. I was excited, it was kind of shocking that I got a phone call from the congressman while standing around a bunch of my fellow track runners,” Gasper said. “I was really nervous, since it was taking forever to hear, and it was a relief when I finally heard that I had been accepted.”

Gasper, who is unsure whether he will major in engineering or history, will enter the gates of the United States Naval Academy on July 1. He will soon be issued a uniform, and will begin Plebe Summer, which will sculpt Gasper from a civilian into a midshipman through the rigorous seven-week program designed as the academy’s bootcamp.

“I’m looking forward to being in the Naval Academy,” Gasper said. “It is such an honor to be able to go there.”

After Plebe Summer comes to an end, Gasper will begin what is often referred to as the strenuous academic year.

“The first year I’m going to probably be homesick, but I’m going to miss a lot of the media, too. The first year I won’t get to use a lot of media, which means that I won’t be able to listen to music, watch TV, so that’s not going to be fun,” Gasper said.

“During the summer I will not get cellphone use, either, but during the school year I will, and we’re allowed a lot of things, but certain medias are restricted, such as music and Facebook and Twitter.”

Gasper will receive four visits home during his freshman year of college at the Naval Academy. On Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and four weeks in the summer, Gasper will get to travel over a 1,500-mile distance from Annapolis to Bismarck to visit his family and friends.

“If you go to the Naval Academy, you have to accept that it’s going to be nine years of your life: four years at the academy and five years in the military,” Gasper said. “So I’ve put pretty extensive thought into whether or not to make the military my lifelong career.”

Parents Sabina and Frank Gasper were not surprised with his decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, and were very supportive of the decision.

“Jack has always been interested in military history, serving in the military, and it seemed like a natural choice for him,” Frank Gasper said.

Gasper’s parents both feel immense satisfaction of their son’s accomplishments.

“We were just extremely proud of him after he found out he had been accepted,” Sabina Gasper said. “We are very proud at how hard he has worked and are impressed that he decided this is what he wanted, and that he went after the goal with a lot of tenaciousness and resilience.”

Although his parents are excited for him, they will miss making memories with him on a day-to-day basis.

“We will miss his conversation and his smile. We will also miss him wrestling with his little brother, also getting to nag him about cleaning his room. I’ll just miss him being a part of our lives everyday,” Sabina Gasper said. “I hope Jack is happy at the Naval Academy, I hope he is challenged intellectually and finds a great group of friends. I hope he will be happy with the decision he has made.”