Jack Farrell is headed to sea. The Huntington High School senior plans to attend the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
Huntington High School senior Jack Farrell.
“Originally, I didn’t know the Coast Guard Academy existed,” Mr. Farrell said. “My uncle initially sparked my interest in the service academies when we were attending my grandfather’s burial in Arlington National Cemetery; he was a captain in the US Navy. While we were in the area, my Uncle Phil suggested we visit the Naval Academy, so we did. As I toured the campus and learned about the heritage of the Naval Academy, I was surprised to learn that I was familiar with some of its eccentric customs because of my experience in the Boys Scouts of America. I immediately fell in love with the Academy scene and wanted to learn more, so I applied to the Naval Academy’s summer seminar program, a week-long program where you live like a midshipman during their Plebe Summer; the seven-week program at the Naval Academy that turns civilians into midshipman.
Mr. Farrell said he learned about the Coast Guard Academy’s summer AIM (Academy Introduction Mission) program only a week before the application deadline.
“I scrambled to complete the application,” Mr. Farrell said. “The day before it was due, however, I realized I needed two recommendations, one from my guidance counselor, Mr. [Steve] Lashin,and the other from a teacher; Mr. [Brian] Reynolds. Luckily they were both willing and able to write their recommendations on such short notice and for that, I am truly grateful. As it turned out, I was rejected from the Naval Academy’s summer seminar, but I was accepted into the AIM program.”
The Huntington senior’s week participating in the AIM program was a humbling experience, to say the least. Mr. Farrell admits he was demoralized. “But by the end of the week, I walked away proud to have gone through the experience,” he said. “I was further enthused to apply to the Coast Guard Academy. I am intrigued by the Academy’s small size and how every class is hands-on and how personable and approachable the professors are. Sure, Swab Summer scares me half to death, but I look at it as literally learning a new thing every day, whether it be self-defense, shooting, military history or just personal fitness. Each and every day at the Academy and beyond will be an experience worth cherishing a lifetime.”
Mr. Farrell applied to just three colleges: The US Coast Guard Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Worchester Polytechnic Institute. “I will be studying mechanical engineering at the Academy,” Mr. Farrell said. “I will sail for the Academy's dinghy team and participate in the ski and snowboard club during the winter season.”
After submitting his application for the AIM program last year, Mr. Farrell received an email from Doug Clark. “Mr. Clark is the director of sailing at the Academy and he also happens to be a Huntington High School alumnus,” the senior said. “Mr. Clark has been my point of contact for any and all questions regarding the Academy and he really helped me to become a better applicant for the Academy. As for the actual process of applying, there were several essays involving how I have prepared myself to be successful as a cadet, my leadership experience over the last three years, my experiences with discrimination and how I reacted to it; so not the general run-of-the-mill college essay.”
The teenager found the written application to be “very thorough” and the process culminated with an in-person interview at Panera Bread on Main Street in Huntington village. “The interview ended up lasting over three hours,” Mr. Farrell said. “After that, I eagerly awaited for January 15 to hear back. During ninth period I got the call from Lieutenant Warren ‘Darnell’ Talbert stating that I was accepted into the United States Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2023. I recently visited the Academy for an accepted students day and Lt. Talbert told me that I was the first person to accept the appointment in his district, which includes 12 states, the Canadian territories, the armed forces and U.S. citizens living abroad.”
Mr. Farrell has a five year service commitment following his graduation from the Coast Guard Academy. “At this point in time, I don’t know what I want to do in the Coast Guard, but I’m sure I will find something I love as I have been on and around the water for years,” he said. “Whether I serve five years or more, at some point in my life I would like to become a high school teacher.”
As his days as a Huntington High School senior grows shorter, Mr. Farrell took time to reminisce. “My fondest memories will be of all the late nights during the Huntington Robotics build seasons where Mr. [Brian] Reynolds, Mr. [Omar] Santiago and all of the team mentors graciously donated their time to oversee us as we built world-class robots each year,” he said. “We truly are a family and that is what I will miss the most.”