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How To Write A Service Academy Nomination Essay

The Resume and Essay

In the first two parts of this blog series, we talked about the steps you need to take to help your student maximize their opportunity to get into a service academy. In the third and final part of this blog series, as promised, we are sharing some additional examples of a resume and an essay that helped to successfully secure multiple nominations to multiple academies.


The Resume:

Once in high school, the resume fodder begins. Keep in mind that these schools are looking for the “whole person” approach and the resume will need to show accomplishments in academics, athletics, community involvement and leadership. Here is a sample of a winning resume that garnered one million dollars in college scholarships from USNA ($450,000), USAFA($450,000) and UCLA ROTC ($180,000).

Sample Resume for A 2015 USAFA Graduate:

Main Achievements:

Presidential Appointment to the United States Air Force Academy

($450,000 scholarship)

Presidential Appointment to the United States Naval Academy

($450,000 scholarship)

United States Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of California at Los Angeles

($180,000 scholarship)


Lancaster City Youth Commission Chairman (this is legitimate, sworn-in commissioners for Lancaster City. It was after and application process, an interview, and a popular vote to get to chairman out of at least 50 top youth in the region)

Assistant Manager and tutor for Math Magicians in Quartz Hill  (July 2010-present)

Blockbuster Video (August 2009- August 2010)

Intern at the Honorable Buck McKeon’s office in Palmdale, (Summer of 2009)

Captain for DCHS Varsity Volleyball team for 2 years

Captain for DCHS Varsity Mathletes

Current Class Rank: 2 of 107

Cumulative, Unweighted GPA: 3.97, Weighted: 4.2

Over 1250 hours of volunteering since 9th grade

Summer of 2010

–  Attended the United States Air Force Academy Summer Seminar

–  Attended the United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar

2009-2010: Junior, Desert Christian High School

–  ASB, Activities Representative (Coordinator)

–  Vice President of CSF (California Scholarship Federation)(VP of 80+ members)(Is a position for a 12th grader, achieved in 11th grade)

–  Member of NHS (National Honor Society)

–  Varsity Cross Country (Runner, and Manager)

–  Varsity Soccer

–  Varsity Volleyball (Team Captain as Junior)

–  Varsity Mathletes (Starter)(year round)

–  Worship Team, Leader (In charge of 13 musicians), at Desert Christian High School, at The Highlands Christian Fellowship, and at Central Christian Church (playing Guitar, and Bass Guitar)

– Approved Tutor: Chemistry, Biology, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Physical Science, Math A, English 9, English 10, English 11, Spanish I, Spanish II, Spanish III

– Attended RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards)(Recommendation from School Administration, then accepted through application process)

Awards for Junior Year:

–  United States Achievement Academy: National History and Government Award in AP United States History

–  United States Achievement Academy: National Leadership Merit Award in Leadership

–  United States Achievement Academy: National Leadership and Service Award for being an All American Scholar

– ACSI Distinguished High School Student for outstanding Achievement in both Academics and for Leadership

(Note: All of these awards are based of raw data [grades, service hours, activities, demonstrated leadership] as well as multiple teacher recommendations. During this awards night, I was one of 3 people, of 400, to receive the last two awards)

2008-2009:, Sophomore, Desert Christian High School

– Varsity Volleyball

– Junior Varsity Mathletes, (Team Captain)

– Worship Team

– Honors English 10, Algebra II, Chemistry (All advanced courses, the only ones offered)

– World History, Spanish II

– California Scholarship Federation, Cabinet, Sophomore Class Representative (3.5 GPA and above)

– National Honor Society (3.2 GPA and above)

– National Honor Roll Award

– Chemistry, Biology, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Physical Science, Math A, English 9, English 10, English 11, Spanish I, Spanish II

2007-2008:, Freshman, Desert Christian High School

– JV Volleyball

– JV Mathletes

– National Honor Roll Award: Academics, Honor Roll

– Honors English 9, Geometry, Biology, Advanced String Ensemble-Cello (All advanced courses, the only ones offered)

– Spanish I, Freshman Studies (Speech and Health)

– California Scholarship Federation

– Worship Team Member


– Graduate, Desert Christian Middle School, 4.0 GPA (All A’s, no weighted classes offered)

-Student, Desert Christian High School. Expected graduation: June 2011

Special Awards/Recognition:

– National Honor Roll Award: Academics, Honor Roll

– International Foreign Language Award: Spanish

– Presidential Award for Academic Excellence

– Mathletes, Team Captain, 2007-2008, 2008-2009

– Student of the Month: Leadership (Freshman and Sophomore Year)

– Student of the Month: Genuineness (Junior Year)

– Desert Christian High School Letters:

-Varsity Cross Country, Soccer, Volleyball (2 years)

-Fine Arts (Advanced Strings Ensemble)

-Academics (3.5 or higher) (6 of 6 possible Semesters)




-Principle’s List: Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior years

The Essay:

It’s never too early to begin to think about what you would like to write in your admissions application essay. These are very important and should bewell thought out before submitting. Be sure to have you liaison officer review it before you submit it or ask an academy graduate to help. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a faculty member from your school review it as well. More eyes on the project can mean a broader perspective, but it still needs to be your own voice, so you will have the final word on the essay.

The following is an essay that garnered our son, Philip, nominations to both USNA ($450,000) and USMA ($450,000) .

The Essay – Following in a Father’s Footsteps

In the military lifestyle, heroes beget heroes. There are so many families that have a history of military service, and oftentimes, military “brats” will grow into adults who have the desire to serve, as well. Here’s is Philip’s essay:

Growing up in a military home, I saw very little of my father at times. As an officer, he was often gone taking care of his troops, performing his duties, and faithfully serving his country. I never truly understood why he did what he did until his dream became mine. When I walked on the campus of the Naval Academy this past summer during the Summer Leadership Seminar, I saw greatness. I saw an institution that taught men and women to be leaders, thinkers, and people of character. But most important, I saw my cadet commanders as men of high leadership with a servant’s heart. They put our comfort ahead of their own, as my father did with his men.

All my life I have dreamed of one day leading hundreds or possibly thousands of men and women. I have sacrificed much in the process of becoming a competitive candidate for the academy. It was not Summer Leadership School that made me want to be in the military, it was my father’s integrity and service. However, it was the midshipmen that I met that made me determined to attend Annapolis. It was my goal to become an officer; now it is my goal to become a warrior and a gentleman, in the finest sense of the word. To learn “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.” I desire to carry on the legacy of the service academies and to achieve a sense of accomplishment that no other college or career can offer.

Many nights I would stay up late, wondering if my father would come home or be deployed. I wondered if he was okay, or if it was his life that had been taken in one of the plane accidents that occurred in his various Air Force squadrons. However, these experiences did not make me turn against the military—it was quite the opposite. I began to see my father as someone very different from my friends’ fathers. I saw him as a warrior and a true hero. So many times I read about or see the actions of evil men. These are men who would not hesitate to strike down those whom I have come to love and cherish. I knew there was only one thing standing between me and those men—it was my dad. It was men like my father and those with whom he served that rose to stand up to people who seek to destroy everything we hold dear. I knew that I was called to be one of those men who took a stand, and I know it is the service academies that will teach me to stand, and to stand strong and proud.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

Thank you for expressing your interest in the United States Service Academies. As your Representative, each year I have the privilege of nominating a limited number of people to four academies. By contacting my office, you have already shown your commitment to serving our nation, and I applaud you. Our United States Service Academies will push you to reach your full potential, both mentally and physically, while giving you the education and skills needed to serve your country as an officer.

Applicants should begin the nomination process in the summer before their senior year of high school. To start the application process you must apply to each academy that you are interested in. The service academies are extremely competitive; you should consider applying to more than one to give yourself the best opportunity. You should then contact my office in addition to both Senator’s offices to request a nomination. Remember that you should seek nominations from every source, including myself and our Senator’s, and the office of the Vice President.

Our nomination processes are also competitive. I look at a number of factors such as your history of displaying leadership, commitment to community involvement, academic achievement, athletic ability, and strength of character.  By reading this and submitting your application, you already have placed yourself among excellent company and I look forward to reviewing your application.

Application Process

All materials must be complete and received by November 17, 2017. No late materials will be considered. Do not submit your package until it is complete. Incomplete packages will be returned to be corrected. Submit all materials in a double pocket portfolio folder with your name on the front. Your nomination package must be organized, legible, and in order of numerical assignment. Register as a candidate with the academy(ies) you wish to be considered for (See below). You will not be considered for a nomination to an academy unless you have also opened a candidate file with that particular academy. If you have not, please do so before you send a completed packet.

Print the application, instructions, and checklist here. 

  1. Interest Form: You can find the district nomination interest form here. Please fill this form out as early as possible as it will notify our office to expect your packet and will allow us to keep you up to date on events and deadlines related to the Service Academy Nomination process.
  2. High School Transcript: Sealed and certified; it is submitted as part of the nomination package. You may have it forwarded directly from your school.
  3. First quarter senior grades or quarter/semester progress report: An official print-out from your school’s website can fulfill this requirement. If you have graduated high school, you will also need to provide grades/progress report from all higher education institutions you have attended.
  4. SAT/ACT Scores: Official Student Score reports or copies of these sheets are preferred, but website printouts are acceptable if necessary. Copied information on transcripts provided by your school is not acceptable.
  5. Résumé: Please do not exceed one page in length. You may use any standard résumé format that best highlights your particular accomplishments.
  6. Personal essay: There is no length requirement. This is your best opportunity to share your thoughts, ideas and goals concerning your possible appointment to an academy and your subsequent service to our country. Please realize this will be a nominal factor in your interview process. The essay should express to Representative Kilmer your reasons for attending an academy and your future goals upon graduation.
  7. Three letters of recommendation: one must be from an invested teacher, guidance counselor, or principal of your high school. Letters of recommendation should be written by individuals who can assess your character, leadership ability and participation in activities outside of academics. Submit your letters with your complete package in sealed envelopes; please avoid having individuals send their letters of recommendation directly to the office if possible.
  8. Photo: Please submit a recent photo of yourself no larger than 5x7 inches in size. It doesn’t have to be a school photo. You may use this as an additional opportunity to express yourself as an individual or to highlight one of your accomplishments.

Mail to:

U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer
ATTN: Academy Nominations
950 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402

If you meet the qualifications you will be scheduled for an interview with a panel of retired and active-duty military officers from the district. After reviewing the nomination packages and interviewing all the candidates, the panel will submit their recommendations. Representative Kilmer will then nominate the most qualified candidates for appointment to the academies.

For more information about each service academy, please visit their websites:

US Air Force Academy
Director of Admissions
Colorado Springs, CO 80840

US Naval Academy
Director of Candidate Guidance
Annapolis, MD 21408

US Military Academy
Admissions Office,
West Point, NY 10996

US Merchant Marine Academy
Admissions Office
Kings Point, NY 11024

US Coast Guard Academy
The United States Coast Guard Academy does not require congressional nominations. If you are interested in attending the USCG Academy, you can contact the Academy directly at: http://www.uscga.edu/admissions.aspx?id=59 

USCG Admissions Office
New London, CT 06320

Should you have any questions about the nomination process or submission requirements, please contact my District Representative Rob Richards in my Tacoma office at (253) 272-3515 or rob.richards@mail.house.gov. 

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