All Saints senior receives second congressional appointment into - FOX34 Lubbock

All Saints senior receives second congressional appointment into a military academy

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

News release:

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, it’s really difficult to get into a military academy with an overall acceptance rate of approximately 9.6 percent.  But one All Saints Episcopal School senior has accomplished an almost impossible feat by being accepted into not just one military academy this year but two academies.

Senior Samuel Foster Aycock was surprised by Congressman Jodey Arrington February 7 when the Congressman announced Aycock had received a congressional appointment to the United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, New York.

But lightning did strike Aycock twice when Congressman Arrington notified him in March that he also has received a congressional appointment to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

“I truly am honored to receive an appointment to both the United States Military and Naval Academies,” Aycock said. “Thank you to the All Saints faculty members for helping me succeed and thank you to my family for pushing me to be my best.”

Aycock said he applied for both of the military academies because, “It’s a great education first of all, and I really just want the opportunity to serve my country. I feel it’s my duty.”

He is the first All Saints graduate to have received appointments into two military academies. Aycock is joined with classmate senior Anthony Paone as being the first two All Saints students to receive military appointments.  Paone accepted his appointment into the United States Air Force Academy in March. They will be the first seniors to wear the Honor Military Cords during All Saints’ graduation ceremony in June. The 18-member All Saints Class of 2020 is the school’s fifth graduating class.

Aycock enrolled in All Saints two years ago as a junior when his family moved from Shreveport, Louisiana.  He is the son of Dr. Richard and Mrs. Emily Aycock.  His sister, Emily, and brother, Owen, also attend All Saints.

Applying to a military academy seemed like the right thing to do to Aycock. “I love my country, and I have always considered military service. I believe that serving is a duty for me to fulfill,” he said.

He applied and was accepted into several other schools including Purdue University and School of Engineering, Texas A&M University and School of Engineering, Oklahoma State University and School of Engineering, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“I will be attending the United States Military Academy at West Point,” Aycock said. “The Army has always been my preferred branch. West Point also has Chemical Engineering as an offered major.”  Aycock said if he had chosen to attend the Naval Academy he would have majored in some form of engineering, but that the Naval Academy does not offer Chemical Engineering, which is his preferred major.

“I chose West Point because it is an incredible institution that would give me a great education, and it has one of the best engineering programs in the country,” Aycock said. “West Point also will provide me with leadership training that will help me excel in many different facets of life. I also want to serve my country, and feel that it is a duty that I must fulfill.”

Aycock’s career goals for each of the military academies includes aviation and to serve as a career military officer.

“My goal in the Army is to branch aviation and become a helicopter pilot, and to stay in for my career,” he said. “In the Navy, my two career choices would be either to become a Naval Aviation officer or an officer in the Marines.”

Aycock contacted Congressman Arrington’s office last summer to begin the applications required for a congressional nomination into a military academy. Each congressman may nominate up to ten individuals for each vacant academy slot allotted to his or her district for admission into four of the five military academies: the U.S. Military Academy (USMA), West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), Annapolis, Maryland; the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), Kings Point, New York. The fifth service academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), New London, Connecticut does not require a congressional nomination for appointment.

“I began the application process in late June going into my senior year, which is a few months later than the optimal start,” he said. “While I wasn’t too far behind on the application process, I was still at a slight disadvantage because the application process begins during the second semester of junior year. Because I started later than recommended, I had less time to train for my candidate fitness assessment (CFA), so I had to work extra hard to pass.”

He said the application process for both academies were practically identical. “I had to write essays, receive a Congressional nomination, pass a fitness test, and have an interview for both academies,” Aycock said.

Aycock encourages other applicants to begin the application process sooner. “Start your preliminary application when it is available to you in the second semester of your junior year,” Aycock said. “It will be a lot less stressful and you won’t be as time constrained. You also can start training for your fitness test now, and the earlier you start training, the better.”

“Sam Aycock is an extraordinary young man who is honorable, talented, intelligent and dedicated,” High School Counselor Gwen Belk said. “I was not surprised when he told me he intended to apply to the military academies.  The themes of duty, honor and country truly reflect the heart of Sam Aycock's character. The United States Military Academy is receiving a true patriot in Sam Aycock.” 

A military appointment includes a fully-funded four-year college education. The military branch provides tuition, room, board, medical, and dental care. By law, academy graduates are appointed on active duty as commissioned officers and serve in the military for a minimum of five years.  Candidates are evaluated on academic performance, demonstrated leadership potential, and physical fitness. All are required to be U.S. citizens and between 17 and 23 years old. The appointees must be unmarried, not pregnant, and not under obligation to support any children. 

“Sam is an incredibly talented and respectful young man who possesses many of the strong attributes of ‘duty, honor and character’ that remain foundational principles to students who are selected to attend a military academy,” High School Division Head Tammy Edmonson said. “I know Sam will continue to have the same high expectations for himself as he completes college and serves his country.  We are blessed to have Sam and his family as part of the All Saints community and are excited to see the path he will lead in the future!”

Aycock said the application process is not easy and requires a lot of time and dedication to complete.

“When I first started to apply, I had to fill out the preliminary application, called the Candidate Personal Data Record. The Candidate Personal Data Record consists of basic information about myself,” he said. “After I completed this, I submitted it to the admissions committee at West Point who reviewed it and allowed me to start the rest of my application.”

The main application consists of three medium length essays, school official evaluations, and a list of extracurricular activities, and a fitness test. The Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA) consists of a kneeling basketball throw, pull ups, a forty yard shuttle run, sit ups, push-ups, and a one-mile run with short breaks between each event.

“The CFA is only worth about ten percent of the total application, but you must pass,” he said. “I trained very hard for this test, and I was very relieved when I found out that I had passed.”

In order to be accepted into a military academy, applicants also have to be medically qualified by the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board, which also includes an eye exam and physical exam.

“I also had to receive a nomination from a Member of Congress, as it is required by law that all who attend a service academy must have a nomination,” Aycock said. All citizens are eligible for four nominations which includes both senators from the state which one resides, the representative from the district from which one resides, and the

Vice President, although some applicants are eligible for more nominations.

 “I filled out separate applications and applied to receive a nomination from Congressman Arrington, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator John Cornyn, and Vice President Mike Pence,” he said. “I received nominations from Senator Cornyn and Congressman Arrington, granting me eligibility to be accepted into a military academy. Finally, I had an interview with my liaison officers, who are graduates of their respective military academies. The application process was extremely stressful, but very worthwhile.”

Approximately 1,300 cadets will enter West Point with Aycock in June to begin their academy experience. “I report to West Point on June 29th,” Aycock said. “The first day is known as Reception Day, and it is the beginning of an intense six-week training program, known as Beast, to transition new cadets from civilian life to military life.”

His high school division head believes Aycock will not have trouble transitioning to the rigors of West Point. “He has worked diligently in school and has been able to pursue many extra-curricular interests as well in high school due to his work ethic and the support of his parents, teachers and mentors along the way,” Ms. Edmonson said.

Military academies require not only outstanding academic achievements and leadership qualities, but applicants must complete rigorous physical tests which are videotaped and submitted to the academies for evaluation. All Saints Counselor Gwen Belk, High School Division Head Tammy Edmonson, Athletic Director Robert Brashear, Track Coach Dino Jones along with many of his high school teachers worked with Aycock to ensure he completed the application requirements to the best of his abilities.

“Applying to the military academies has been quite the rigorous process for Sam,” Aycock’s mother, Emily Aycock, said.  “All Saints helped him day by day work his way through the many difficult steps it took to complete. I do not think the process would have been possible without the entire team of high school coaches, teachers, counseling and administration. You don’t think of having to do push-ups and pull-ups as a part of a college application, but the coaches prepared him physically during their free time for many months.”

Mrs. Aycock believes the dedication of the All Saints staff helped her son gain admission into both West Point and Annapolis.

“The teachers went over and beyond getting letters of recommendations out in a timely manner and giving Sam the encouragement to finish his essays,” Mrs. Aycock said. “The door to the counselor’s office was always open for him anytime he had a question, needed to meet a deadline or just needed an encouraging smile. That door was the beginning of his future for Sam and our entire family will always be grateful.”

As a member of the 18 member Class of 2020 and All Saints fifth graduating class, Aycock received the Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award and third place in the Phi Beta Kappa High School Academic Achievement Award. He is vice president of All Saints’ Sherry Fewin Chapter of the National Honor Society. He competes on the school’s Cross Country and Track teams and received an All State Award for Cross Country.  Aycock also competes in numerous academic events at the TAPPS State Academic Competitions.

“Sam's appointment to the United States Military Academy is an honor for the Aycock family, All Saints Episcopal School, and the greater Lubbock community,” All Saints Headmaster Bruce Latta said. “West Point is getting a young man of remarkable character, focus, and determination. Sam has many talents, and he will serve his country exceptionally well. We're all very proud of him.”

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