US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Academy Nominations

Academy Nominations
By Senator Mike Rounds
February 27, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateServing in the United States Senate comes with a lot of responsibilities, but nominating South Dakota students to the military service academies is one that I am really looking forward to. My first opportunity to nominate students to the academies will be this fall.  Each member of the Congressional delegation will nominate students to the academies. The four service academies that require a Congressional Nomination are the Military Academy at West Point, New York; the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. The Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut does not require a nomination by a member of Congress. All academies offer great opportunity for young people to become leaders in our nation’s military.

Since only a small number of students are nominated to each class, being selected is very prestigious. It also isn’t easy. The service academies are looking for the best and the brightest. Interested students must meet eligibility requirements in leadership, physical fitness, character and scholarship. It is a rigorous program, but also highly rewarding. The service academies open a world of opportunity for their graduates. The young people joining the military directly from the academies are among the highest caliber our country has to offer—a result of the challenging training and education they received.

Admission is a two-part process. First, the student must apply to the academy of his or her choice directly. After the student meets the admissions requirements of the academy, he or she can contact my office requesting a nomination. I have put together a screening committee who will help me review applications and conduct extensive interviews before I make my final decisions on nominees. After the student has received my nomination, it is up to the admissions office at each academy to ultimately decide who gets accepted.

The process can be confusing, so to help students along the way, I plan to hold “Military Academy Day” events across South Dakota in the coming months. At these seminars, my staff will be joined by representatives from each academy to make presentations and answer questions from interested students and parents. Our first Military Academy Day will take place on March 28, 2015 at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls. The Sioux Falls Academy Day will be the first in a series across the state, including in Pierre and Rapid City. Others may be added, as well. I would encourage all high school students who are thinking about attending a military service academy to attend this informative event. More information about the Academy Day in Sioux Falls can be found on my website,

By attending an academy, not only will students have the opportunity to serve our nation and help lead the best military in the world, but they will receive an excellent education at a top-notch institution. I encourage young South Dakotans interested in service to consider our military academies.