The fourth service academy to require a nomination is the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. Our merchant marine is administered by the Department of Transportation, but graduates of the academy become reserve officers in the U.S. Navy.
Surprised? Me, too. I didn't even know the Merchant Marine had a service academy, until I opened a meeting announcement from my congressman, Adam Schiff.
Most of our readers live in District 26, represented by Congressman David Dreier. Both Dreier and Schiff use the same procedure for nominations. Dreier's district director Mark Harmsen explained that congressional representatives must avoid even a hint of the appearance of favoritism in making nominations.
Early in his congressional career, Dreier established an academy nomination advisory board. The board is composed of community leaders, educators and liaison officers from the academies.
The board reviews the applications and interviews the candidates. The congressman bases his nomination on their recommendations, eliminating any possibility of preferential treatment.
"In appointing board members, we look for leaders who are good judges of young people, like the director of a local YMCA or a school district officer. The representatives from the academies are particularly helpful because they know what their academies require." Harmsen said.
According to Harmsen, Dreier makes nominations to the Merchant Marine every year. He agreed that many people are unaware of the fine education offered at Kings Point.
"It's like a hidden gem, an incredible opportunity for a young person who loves the sea." Harmsen said. He mentioned that maritime industry jobs are well paid, too.