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PASCAGOULA – Pascagoula High School senior Jack Colmer is the kind of student with an impressive high school resume. Salutatorian of the class of 2018. President of the National Honor Society. Offensive co-captain of the football team.
Now, just weeks away from graduation, Colmer has earned a rare accomplishment that might just beat everything else on the list. Colmer is one of only three students in Mississippi to earn an appointment this fall to one of the five elite U.S. service academies that act as a training ground for future commissioned officers in the military.
Colmer‘s appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy in New York comes with free tuition and room and board, making the package worth an estimated $262,000 to $400,000, Colmer said.
“This just seemed like an awesome opportunity I had to take,” Colmer said.
In four years at the academy, students earn a bachelor’s degree in the classroom and spend a “Sea Year” aboard working commercial vessels sailing to ports around the world. Students in their Sea Year will visit an average of 18 countries in that time. Graduates have a post-graduation service obligation with the option to serve in any branch of the armed forces or as a civilian in the maritime industry.
Appointment to a Service Academy starts with a nomination from a U.S. senator or representative. Colmer secured his required nomination from Rep. Steven Palazzo.
Closer to home, Colmer received continual encouragement from his family and from the Pascagoula-Gautier School District as he worked toward his goals.
“They‘re very supportive, and it‘s what they‘ve wanted me to do ever since I started looking into it,” Colmer said of his parents, James and Jennifer Colmer. “They‘ve helped me a lot. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for my mom and dad always pushing me to fill out everything and always trying to get information for me.”
Pascagoula-Gautier schools Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich praised Colmer as an intelligent, hardworking student who has spent his years in school preparing for a bright future.
“All of the components you want in the future leaders of our country are all embodied in Jack Colmer,” Rodolfich said.
Earning a spot at a school with an acceptance rate of only 15% was never a sure thing, but Colmer says his Christian faith has given him the courage to pursue his dreams, no matter the outcome.
“My mindset has always been, ‘Wherever I end up, that’s where God wants me to be.’” Colmer said. “I really believe that this is the path I‘m supposed to take and this is where God is sending me.”