Rose, Gruesen Take Less-Traveled Path of Military Academies


Ava Vande Corput, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

2017 Notre Dame Academy graduate Jacob Rose and 2018 Notre Dame Academy graduate Andrew Gruesen both decided to take the path less traveled when they decided to take careers in the military.

I decided to go into the military because my goal in life is to be the best pilot I’m capable of being, and the U.S. offers the best training in the world. As I’ve gone through the process of applying to the academy and spending my first year here, however, I’ve learned how important it is to serve and how amazing the people you get to work with are, which are reasons that are inspiring me to continue this path in the military,” said Gruesen, who is in his first year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

“I decided to go into the military out of a desire to defend those who would otherwise be defenseless, and to protect freedom and democracy around the world, as well as a drive to follow in the footsteps of my parents, who both served in the United States Marine Corps,” said Rose, now in his second year at the Naval Academy.

However, just deciding to go into the military was not enough for these Notre Dame Academy students because they wanted to continue their education and training at the premier, the toughest and most demanding of military academies.

So, Rose applied to the United States Naval Academy with an acceptance rate of about 9%, and Gruesen applied to the United States Air Force Academy with an acceptance rate of about 12%.

“I decided on the United States Naval Academy because it was the biggest challenge, but also the most rewarding. It is a difficult but exceptional avenue to become an officer in the United States Navy or Marine Corps, and it was the challenge that I was looking for,” said Rose.

“For the longest time I actually wanted to go to the Naval Academy, but after a visit out here, I realized how much better of a fit USAFA (United States Air Force Academy) would be for me. The atmosphere here is totally revolved around aviation which perfectly fits me, while also giving me an amazing education and a really good shot at getting into flight school in the Air Force. I also prefer the Air Force’s fleet of aircraft to Navy’s, which was another reason for picking USAFA over USNA. It also helps to have the the most amazing skiing in the country just an hour away,” stated Gruesen.

However, the process to get accepted into these military academies is not easy, which is why the acceptance rate is so low.

These military academies only want the best of the best coming to their schools, and in order to ensure this, the requirements to even get your application considered are countless.

Parts of these applications include a normal college application as well as required physical and medical screening and a nomination from a United States Senator or Congressman.

“To get a nomination I had to undergo a number of interviews where I was reviewed and asked a number of questions in order to gauge whether or not I was a good candidate for nomination,” stated Rose.

“I applied for Ron Johnson, Tammy Baldwin and Mike Gallagher’s nominations, ultimately getting Gallagher’s nomination to come here, and interviews with all their panels, consisting of anywhere from one person to seven people,” said Gruesen.

Overall, their times at the military academies have led to some great opportunities that both NDA alumni would not have gained without going to this school.

“The best part has been the opportunities. There’s no better place when your dream is to be a fighter pilot. I get a lot of opportunities to talk to fighter pilots, get up close with military aircraft, and meet with people who have tips for flight training. I even have a glider class next semester where I actually get to go out and fly for class. Most of my teachers here are active military personnel too, so I get to hear about their experiences both in the Air Force and with aircraft, and their experiences as leaders and officers in the Air Force,” stated Gruesen.

“The best part here at the Naval Academy has been the ability to train to for the career that I want to have. The military has always been a part of my life, and it has been my dream to serve for a very long time. Here, I have the opportunity to continue my education, while also having access to exceptional training opportunities that will no doubt help me in the years to come, both in the service and outside of it,” said Rose.

Although both boys have loved their experiences at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy, they both agreed that their time at these institutions has not been easy and filled with a lot of challenges.

“The biggest challenge here at USNA has been balancing everything, AKA time management. Not only are we on a rigorous schedule for our classes, unlike normal college, but we also have military obligations to uphold throughout each day as well. However, NDA and the IB Diploma Program prepared me well with the skills that I would need to manage my time under such stresses and rigorous schedules,” stated Rose.

“The worst part has been being away from loved ones. During basic training I was only allowed to write letters, as they took away all of our phones and means of communication. Now that basic is done, things are much better, but I still miss home a lot. Being a freshman here is also very difficult, because they give you a TON of rules to build discipline. Once you make it through freshman year, which is by far the toughest year here, life gets a lot better and you get way more privileges like being able to wear civilian clothes on the weekends and getting more passes to leave base,” said Gruesen.

Overall, through the good and the bad, both Rose and Gruesen agreed that they 100% do not regret their decisions and love what they are doing each and everyday.

As of now, they are both still underclassmen at their military academies, but after they graduate, both Rose and Gruesen have a lot of exciting plans.

After graduation I hope to go to UPT (undergraduate pilot training) where I’ll compete with about 30 other people in my class for the chance to fly fighter jets. The top students in pilot training have the opportunity to select fighters as their aircraft, so I hope to rank high and get either the F-35 or F-22,” stated Gruesen.

“When I graduate from USNA, I plan to commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. As an officer, I will be tasked with leading junior Marines in our designated Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Of all the options out there, my top MOS picks are Human Intelligence Officer or Infantry Officer, but I am also looking into the possibility of being a helicopter pilot,” said Rose.