WCS student Jacob van Haaster (’18) received admission to three of our nation’s top military academies and shares his journey with Superintendent Jim Sullivan.
[00:05] Welcome to “In the Spotlight”. Today, we take a special look at one of our students’ incredible journeys to admission in one of the nation’s premier military academies. And military academies are an interesting part of American history. There are currently five military academies in the United States. There’s a Merchant Marine Academy Coastguard, and probably the three most well known, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and the US Military Academy at West Point, New York. And getting into a military academy is not the same as applying to and getting in and being admitted to a regular college, a university across the country. Not only do you have to pass, uh, very, uh, restrictive physical and academic requirements, but each candidate needs to receive a nomination from their, a congressperson, uh, in order to be able to apply. And without that nomination, application is not possible.
[01:00] And as I said, it is selective. For example, last year the US military academy at West Point received just under 14,000 applications, of which 4,100 of those students actually received nominations from their congressman or woman. And then of those just 1,250 were actually admitted into West Point Academy. Uh, the interesting thing about all of those admissions rates, as I said, very selective. Uh, the Air Force Academy has an admissions rate of 12%. Uh, the U S Military Academy at West Point has an admissions rate of 10% in the US Naval Academy 9% as a comparison, UCLA, the University of California in Los Angeles, which this last year had over 102,000 applicants. They select 16% of their, uh, applying freshmen, uh, for admission into the university. And so to get an appointment and to be admitted to one of the military academies, the United States is quite the honor. And we have with us today senior Jacob van Haaster.
[02:00] Jacob, welcome. Thank you for having me here. Absolutely. And one of the things that’s most amazing about Jacob is Jacob has applied to and received admission to three US military academies, Air Force, Navel, and the US Military Academy at West Point. That is actually very, very rare, uh, to get admitted into all three. Jacob, we’re tremendously proud of you as I’m sure your family is. Uh, so, um, as you have thought about, uh, this process and applying to these military academies, you’ve been accepted to all three. Why is it that you want to serve our country in this way?
[02:37] I believe that I’ve been blessed to be born in the United States. It’s a country with unique freedoms and liberties that aren’t offered throughout the world. And I think that those freedoms and liberties deserve to be defended. I think a military academy offers the best opportunity to serve and also advances my, um, my education and my leadership skills like no other university. I think our world today is in need of strong Christian leaders in the military and in the civilian areas. And I think that the, the academy’s offer, um, an opportunity like no other and, uh, to, to form me into a servant leader no matter what my career is. Wonderful.
[03:19] Fantastic. I would agree with you. We certainly need men and women of those kinds of leadership characteristics across our nation. Um, as you look at the opportunity to apply to these academies and then obviously be accepted, um, it is not a journey that you have taken on your own. I know your family and specifically your parents have had a huge impact on who you are. As you consider at this point, which of the three academies you’re going to choose because as you’ve shared with us, you haven’t made your decision yet. What would you say has been their biggest impact on your life and who you are today?
[03:56] So the biggest impact my parents have had on me is definitely my work ethic. Um, when I was younger I was homeschooled by my mom and uh, she taught me the value of hard work and that when you work hard and you set your mind to a goal than it can be accomplished. But another big one that my parents kind of pushed into my brain is the value of service because, um, I, every week they showed it through the actions. Every week they would a volunteer for Sunday school and they would open up their home for a Bible study. And the big thing about it was I saw them at the home and they didn’t just show up on Sunday and on Saturday and go through the motions and kind of not prepare. So they prepared throughout the week and uh, and I saw how much work they put in it so that they knew that they were doing their best for the other people. So I think the two biggest things that they gave me was hard work and service. Okay.
[04:48] Well those two character traits we have seen from you over these last four years tremendously, uh, on this campus and the variety of different areas, both athletics, missions trips, and in a variety of areas that you have certainly volunteered and served in here. So we appreciate that. Um, I know that you haven’t, as I said, chosen which academy that you’re ultimately going to attend. Um, but whichever one it is, what is it that you hope to contribute to the institution? I know that you are going to receive opportunities from them and you’re looking forward to that. What do you hope to, to give back to actually the institution while you’re attending?
[05:24] So the people that go to the, the academies, they tend to be genuinely good people with, um, with good morals. They tend to be honorable, uh, their servants and they have high integrity. But I think the difference is that, um, I’m, I want to show them that I’m also honorable. I, uh, I’m a servant and I’ve high integrity, but I also have Jesus. And so I want them to be able to see that there’s a difference between just being a good person and being a Christian. So I hope that through my actions they can see that and ask me about it. Sure. Be a light, be a light in the academy. That’s fantastic.
[05:58] As you think about your time here at Woodcrest Christian, it’s rapidly coming to a close. We have a few short weeks left. Um, what have you learned or experienced here that has really made a difference in your life for you and, and something or, or what will you take with you from here that you will not only cherish but you know, will be really helpful and valuable to you in the future?
[06:22] So, like I said earlier, I was, um, I was homeschooled when I was younger and I spent my time being with my mom all day. Somebody who loves me and who cares about how I grow academically and spiritually. And the change coming to Woodcrest was very, very easy because the teachers here also have a genuine care about who I am and who I become. Um, each class period is opened up with prayer. And so each of the teachers ask the students, “is there anything I can pray for you”? And I don’t think they just leave it in the classroom. I think that it’s taken back home and the teachers pray for their students. Um, a big thing is when I’m walking down the halls, they see me and they say hello to me by name. They don’t just walk past me and ignore me. I’m not just a faceless, a faceless picture on an attendance sheet. So I think that’s, that’s a big deal. I think that they care about who I am and who I’m going to become.
[07:14] Absolutely. Wonderful. Thank you. I’m glad that’s the experience you’ve had. And that’s what I would hope for you. Well, we are excited for you, uh, for your choice that you get to make, um, and how you will serve not only a your nation, uh, but obviously, uh, your God, as well, in the academies. We pray the best for you and, uh, good luck to you. Thank you very much. Absolutely.