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Patriot Expressions

From Marion Patriot to U.S. Patriot

Photo provided by Web Brown

Photo provided by Web Brown

Claire Bunn, Editor

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The United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, MD looks for well-rounded students with leadership experience, superb academics and physical strength. Hard-working senior William “Web” Brown easily exemplifies the three pillars of a USNA midshipman. He boasts a high ACT and GPA, leadership experience as president of Delta Christian Association Brothers and ample physical training as co-captain of the track and cross country teams.  

Besides meeting the demanding qualifications of admission, Brown had to undergo an extensive application process. Although he will attend the USNA, he also applied to the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  

Brown had to write five essays for each application, obtain letters of recommendation from his principal, counselor and multiple teachers and undergo background checks, medical exams and physical exams. Then, he had to apply to obtain interviews with US senators and congressmen in hopes of obtaining a personal recommendation from them.  

All his hard work paid off, as Brown is one of the first Arkansans to ever receive offers of admission, or appointments, to all three academies that he applied to. He was offered personal nominations from U.S. senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman and U.S. Representative Rick Crawford after undergoing extensive panel interviews. 

With admission to any of the military academies comes a free, Ivy-League quality education contingent upon military service for a minimum of five years after graduation.

“The education itself was really exciting for me because of the hands-on aspect,” Brown shared. “In engineering, they have a full-size surface warfare ship down the hallway, and everyday in class, you go out and take out a piece and learn about it, and you have little engines on your desks. You don’t go to class with 150 kids. You go to class with eight kids, and you’re doing it all hands-on. That type of stuff was a lot more appealing to me than doing book work.”

After graduating from the USNA, Brown will serve in the Navy as a second lieutenant, but his specific duties will depend upon his major and training. While the free education is definitely a plus, being a midshipman is about much more than the financial benefits.  

“It is free, but it’s not,” Brown expressed. “If that’s the reason you’re wanting to go, you’re not going for the right reasons. I wanted to surround myself with the best students I could to push me. You won’t make it if you’re not mentally prepared.”

That intrinsic motivation and drive toward self-improvement will serve Brown well as he navigates a rigorous schedule that begins each day at 6:30 a.m. and ends at midnight. Midshipmen’s days are packed with seven classes, mandatory sports, military training and study time designed to mold midshipmen into strong, capable leaders.

Besides the education and driven student atmosphere, Brown chose the USNA for its historically strong education in science, engineering and mathematics, as well as the service opportunities post graduation.

“The main thing for me was service,” Brown stated. “All the academies are pretty close to the same in the fact that you’re getting a top-notch education, everything’s hands-on, you have that military background, but the thing for me was, ‘What do I want to do afterwards?’ The navy had more of the options that I was interested in. Navy has flight spots. I really like surface warfare; it looks really interesting. All my service opportunities that I was interested in always pointed toward Navy.”

While Brown is currently undecided on a major, he anticipates ending up in some sort of engineering, possibly mechanical.  

“I was always interested in the way things work,” Brown said. “There’s a whole lot more that goes into things that you don’t think about.”  

For students looking to follow in Brown’s footsteps or interested in the any of the military academies, the application process is one that requires some planning. Applications are available in June before senior year and must be submitted by November, but Brown’s journey began long before senior year.

Brown began attending local information sessions, similar to college fairs, as early as ninth grade after being inspired by family friend Tom Petillo, a 1966 graduate of USNA.  

“The congressman meeting is the best information for you and your parents, but also, at those meetings you meet a lot of people,” Brown advised. “Also, there’s people that have gone to the academies that are in this area, but they’re a lot older. Now, I would count myself as a resource. You have to network really well.”

He also attended summer seminars following his junior year. The seminars are nearly as competitive as the academies themselves, and interested students must apply during the fall of their junior year.  

“It’s just like going to school there,” Brown explained. “You pick some classes. I took mechanical engineering, and I walked in the class, and they said, ‘Here’s a lawnmower. Take it apart.’ I took chemistry. We walked in class, and it’s like, ‘Alright, you’re in a boiler room of a ship. How much rust is in this boiler room?’ It was really hands-on even though we didn’t belong to the school yet. That just made me want to go there even more because the hands-on education is top-notch.”

As for his experiences at MHS, Brown is grateful for the the leadership roles that the school has provided him with and thankful for the support from teachers and counselors that helped him to achieve his goals.  

“You can’t do any of the process alone,” Brown said of the arduous applications. “You’re very dependent on people. You also have to be willing to ask for help throughout the whole process.”

Thankfully, help was readily offered by Brown’s invested teachers.  

“Web is very honest, considerate of others, very intelligent, very driven,” Tracy Long, who has taught Brown in mathematics for three consecutive years, said.

Brown will report for his Plebe Summer, a summer that introduces incoming freshmen to life at the Naval Academy and military training, on June 28. As he takes this new step in his life, Brown has the full support of the Marion community. Please wish him luck on this amazing achievement.  

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