Three members of Rising Sun High School's Class of 2015 plan to make a career out of serving their country.
Aly Jackson, Kyle Andersen, and Michael Catena each received an appointment to attend a military college.
Jackson will attend United States Air Force Academy Prep School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a year before moving on to the Air Force Academy.
Andersen will study at the United States Naval Academy and Catena will attend the United States Military Academy.
The decision to attend a prestigious institution and commit to military service was an easy one for all three. "I always thought the military would be something I wanted to do," Jackson said. "I looked into the Air Force Academy and I really liked it. There was nowhere else I wanted to be."
Jackson plans to study engineering and hopes to become a fighter pilot. A member of the National Honor Society, Jackson played basketball and softball at Rising Sun and has been active in the community.
Andersen has visited the Naval Academy's Annapolis campus several times. "It's something I've been considering for a long time," he said. "I knew I wanted to serve the country in some capacity and this was the avenue I decided to go. Also, it's a great education and provides career opportunities."
Andersen plans to study mechanical engineering or nuclear engineering and will strive for a pilot slot. He is also considering The Marines or a surface warfare job on a aircraft carrier.
An active volunteer through his church Grace Bible Chapel, Andersen played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse at Rising Sun and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Catena's father, Gene, is a 1982 graduate from West Point. The family lived overseas for several years, an experience that appeals to Catena. "It's a chance to give back to the country and be part of something bigger than myself," he said.
Catena wants to learn defense and strategy studies and serve in the infantry.
While at Rising Sun, Catena started a club called the Service Club which performed volunteer work across the county and also played soccer and tennis.
Military academy graduates must serve a five-year commitment but Jackson, Andersen, and Catena each say they plan at least a 20-year career in the service.
They understand it's possible they could be called upon to serve in combat situations.
"While that fear is there it was not enough to stop me from wanting to serve my country," Jackson said. "I would rather have a part in keeping those dangers away from my friends and family here at home."
Jackson, Andersen, and Catena each say Rising Sun High helped them reach their goal.
"STEM really helped," Jackson said. "Starting in that program my freshman year helped with labs and science. I didn't know it would interest me as much as it did."
Said Andersen: "There are a lot of teachers who helped along the way," Andersen said. Linda Muzzey a RSHS science teacher who was an instructor at a military school, was a big influence.
Rising Sun High also offered a course not found at many other schools. "I think having Chinese on my resumé really helped me," Andersen said.
Catena developed a rapport with counselor Wendi Evans and she sponsored his Service Club.
"She was an influence and offered encouragement and support," he said.
The three also benefited by being able to lean on one another. "Me and Mike have been talking about this since we were younger," Andersen said. "And more recently, we've talked with Aly. We've been able to support each other throughout the process."
Jackson, Andersen, and Catena take pride in both their country and their community.
"It goes to show great people come out of Cecil County," Andersen said. "I'm not saying we're great people but there's a lot of potential here. Some people put us down but we can do big things. There are plenty of opportunities. You just have to go out and get them."