U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has sorted through the top high school seniors in the region for possible appointment to United States military service academies, including a young man who has had perfect attendance since kindergarten and an alternate who is already on a path to appointment.
McCarthy named five nominees for admission to service academies from among 23 high school applicants in his district.
Nominees were selected in a competitive process by a committee that included accomplished military veterans in the 23rd District.
"I am proud to nominate students from my district who display the core values of honor and courage in their commitment to serve our country," McCarthy said in a statement. "I congratulate each of them in their pursuit of becoming future leaders in our Armed Services."
Members of Congress annually choose one principal nominee for each of the nation's four academies, and also nominate competing alternates that academies may consider at their discretion.
Some applicants received a nomination to more than one academy according to the ranked preferences on their application.
Service academies pick the most successful high school senior nominees for admission in the fall.
Most service academy cadets graduated in the top 25 percent of their high school class. The minimum SAT scores for the academies are 500 verbal and 500 math.
This year's nominees are:
Michael "Mickey" Cushine, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Cushine, 17, attends Independence High School in Bakersfield. He wants to major in aerospace engineering or biology, and dreams of becoming a fighter pilot.
"This allows me to combine my passion for flying with service to my country and helping others to excel," he said.
Cushine is captain of the baseball team and a member of the Ford Dream Builder Program, a youth leadership program of the Jim Burke Education Foundation. He obtained his private pilot license in November and has had perfect attendance since kindergarten.
Cushine also founded Flights for Friends, a program that allows disabled children to train in flight simulators and do short airplane taxis on runways.
"I love seeing the smiles on their faces," he said. "These kids get to hang out in places that most people think they aren't even allowed to go."
In addition to receiving a principal nomination to the Air Force Academy, Cushine received a competing alternate nomination to the U.S. Military Academy.
Andrew "Drew" Francis, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y .
Francis, 18, attends North High School in Bakersfield. He is thinking of majoring in history, and is interested in mechanical design and agricultural systems.
"There are not a whole lot of people joining the military anymore, and America's freedoms are very valuable to me," Francis said. "People in the past sacrificed so I could have them. I want to defend those freedoms so future generations can enjoy them."
Francis is active in the North High Future Farmers of America chapter, where he has received numerous awards, most recently being named a national finalist and state winner in agriculture mechanics design and fabrication. He's a former wrestler and is also active in Ranch Rodeo.
Kyle Mathes-Orr, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md .
Mathes-Orr, 18, attends Tehachapi High School. He'd like to major in mechanical engineering and one day command warships, submarines or aviation squadrons.
Mathes-Orr said he's dreamed of a military career his whole life, and attending the Naval Academy would be a dream come true.
"It's a beautiful, beautiful place," he said.
Mathes-Orr is senior class vice president and captain of the soccer team. Outside of school, he is a line boy for Skylark North Mountain Valley Airport, which serves unpowered glider aircraft.
Mathes-Orr also received a competing alternate nomination to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Garrett Silong, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, N.Y .
Silong, 17, attends Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest. He'd like to major in marine engineering and go to sea.
"I think that would be really interesting," he said. "And it would be an awesome privilege to lead troops."
Silong's father served in the Air Force, but he said he thought his dad would forgive him for joining the marines if he makes it into the Merchant Marine Academy.
"I don't think he'll be too ashamed of me," he quipped.
Silong is swim captain and secretary of the Burroughs High chapter of the California Scholarship Federation, a statewide organization that honors outstanding high school students.
Silong also received a competing alternate nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy.
Sarah Manges, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md .
This year, the Naval Academy offered a competing alternate nominee who completed an early admission board review a letter of conditional assurance. This guarantees an offer of appointment after the remaining admissions requirements have been fulfilled and a nomination has been received.
Manges, 17, attends Centennial High School in Bakersfield and would like to major in aerospace engineering and become a naval aviator, like two of her cousins.
"It's a job that has enough activity to keep me on my toes and excite me and challenge me every day," she said.
Manges is active in Associated Student Body student government, the civics competition We the People, and the community service youth group Key Club.
She has also participated in cross country and swimming.
Manges also received competing alternate nominations to the U.S. Air Force and Military Academies.