By TAYLOR HARTZ
Midshipman Andrew Sikora is spending his Thanksgiving break visiting his hometown and encouraging high school students across the state to consider the United States Naval Academy.
A life-long Southington resident, Sikora is in his third-class year at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he describes himself as a full-time student, an officer-in-training, an athlete, and a public affairs advocate for the U.S. Navy.
In addition to a full course load and military training, Sikora is one of just under 500 midshipman in the academy’s Operation Information (OPINFO) program, and an active member of the Brigade of Midshipman.
“Being a midshipman is about bettering yourself to become a strong leader,” said Sikora, who is responsible for training about 1,200 first-year midshipman.
Sikora’s program has him on track to become an officer of the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps when he completes his degree.
“You get to be a college student and a member of the military, and have some incredible experiences,” he said, highlighting tactical training, experience with high caliber weapons, and jumping from airplanes as some of his most memorable moments.
“If you have what it takes to come here,” said Sikora, “I highly recommend you do.”
By joining the 55-year-old OPINFO program, Sikora is responsible for promoting the Naval Academy and “increasing awareness of a service academy education.”
As an assignment for the OPINFO program, Sikora had to attend six events to promote the academy and its dedication to “moral, mental, and physical development.”
His first stop was Southington High School.
Prepared with a Power Point presentation, informational packets, and contact cards, Sikora walked five SHS students through a day in the life of a midshipman.
Lee Ann Miller, SHS guidance counselor and former Blue and Gold Officer at the Naval Academy, joined Sikora in guiding the students through the application process.
Two seniors, two juniors, and one freshman met with Sikora and Miller early Monday morning, to ask questions ranging from medical concerns, the application processes, and the academic curriculum that Sikora described as “rigorous.”
The midshipman gave the students advice for the next steps of their applications, informed them of helpful summer programs, and shared his favorite experiences at the academy.
“The opportunities to succeed are endless if you take them,” he told students.
After visiting SHS, Sikora was headed to Kingswood-Oxford, his alma mater, and Conard High School in West Hartford. He will also visit the Hartford Sports and Medical Sciences Academy and the High School Inc., in Hartford, in addition to reaching out to interested local students and media.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.