Nina Cartwright led a disciplined life during her four years at Huntington High School. So when the teenager graduated with the Class of 2016 last June, she was well-positioned for the rigors of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, where the scholar-athlete is a freshman.
“It’s going well,” Ms. Cartwright said last week. “It’s probably the hardest route I could have taken, but it has already been so rewarding. Plebe summer, not going to lie, was pretty rough for me considering it started five days after graduation whereas most kids had a month and a half or so to prepare. It was the toughest mental and physical challenge I have had to face so far, but also the most valuable.”
The US Naval Academy began accepting woman in 1976. Females currently comprise about 20 percent of the enrollment. Ms. Cartwright received an appointment to the Naval Academy from US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She had to meet a whole host of academic and physical requirements before being formally accepted.
“As the undergraduate college of our country’s naval service, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps,” states the institution’s website. “Naval Academy students are midshipmen on active duty in the U.S. Navy. They attend the academy for four years, graduating with Bachelor of Science degrees and commissions as ensigns in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Naval Academy graduates serve at least five years in the Navy or Marine Corps.”
Following the grueling summer, Ms. Cartwright is readily adapting to life at the Naval Academy. “The academic year is much better for me and I have settled into the gymnastics team,” she said. “I love my company and the people I have met so far and I now know why people say the best thing about this place is the people you will meet. Hopefully, school won’t be getting too hard in the upcoming weeks.”
The Huntington alum said last spring that she was considering studying engineering. She cited high school science teachers Nicole Cooper and Joseph Cohen as two of the faculty members she was closest to over the years.
The teenager starred on the Blue Devil track and field team and especially sparkled in pole vault. She holds the Huntington High School record in the event.
“Since a young age I had been interested in aviation and even wrote that I wanted to be a pilot in the sixth grade yearbook,” Ms. Cartwright said last spring. “However it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I truly became interested in a life of service to my country. I began to research the different service academies and what they stood for and allowed the interest to grow even more.”