The Gatton Academy's News Archive
Four Gatton Academy Graduates to Attend Service Academies
- Ashley Taylor
- Wednesday, July 12th, 2023
BOWLING GREEN – In The Gatton Academy Class of 2023, four graduates committed to attend military service academies in the fall. Graduates will be attending the United States Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Military Academy West Point to continue their educations and commission into the respective military branches. To earn an appointment to a military academy, students must be nominated by a Congressional Representative, in addition to having exceptional academic records, good moral character, and passing fitness assessments, among other rigorous requirements. Previous Gatton Academy graduates have attended service academies, including Benjamin Rice (Class of 2012, Somerset Christian School) and Samuel Hoffman (Class of 2021, Knott County Central High School though several have joined the military through other pathways.
Brennan McElfresh, from East Jessamine High School (Jessamine County), will attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and study Robotics and Control Engineering. McElfresh was nominated by United States Senator Mitch McConnell and United States Representative Andy Barr. When asked how Gatton prepared him to attend a service academy, McElfresh remarked, “Gatton allowed me to grow as an independent learner, respectful peer, and a leader.” McElfresh chose a service academy over a traditional university due to the opportunity to receive “a great education and serve a purpose larger than myself while doing so.”
Quinn Miller, from Hopkinsville High School (Christian County), will attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado to study Physics with a focus in Astrophysics and Chinese. “I chose the service academy over a traditional college or university because of the unique opportunities that are available because it’s a service academy. I would have a fast track to many research jobs with the U.S. and NASA, and I would have the chance to fly. I would not be able to take advantage of those opportunities at a regular college or university.” Miller was nominated by United States Senator Mitch McConnell, United States Senator Rand Paul, and United States Representative James Comer.
Diego Moreno, from Elizabethtown High School (Hardin County), was nominated to multiple academies by United States Congressman Brett Guthrie and was appointed to the Merchant Marine Academy before accepting an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. When asked how Gatton prepared him to attend a service academy, Moreno replied, “Gatton prepared me by teaching me the correct work ethic and attention to detail required to succeed and gain attention from the academies and prepared me to prosper academically at an academy.” Moreno felt that attending a service academy “felt more like a direct step into my career.”
Reagan Phelps, from Bardstown High School (Nelson County), will attend the United States Military Academy, otherwise known as West Point, to study Russian and International Affairs with a minor in European Terrorism Studies. “My father was in the Army, and so I’ve always wanted to be a part of something with purpose. I find strength in the Army values and wanted to pursue both an education and the military.” Phelps was nominated by United States Congressman Brett Guthrie and United State Senator Rand Paul, and Congressman Guthrie presented her appointment during an event at The Gatton Academy this spring. “Gatton introduced me to my love of Russian language and culture as well as helped me to get the NSLI-Y scholarship to study abroad in Estonia. On the trip I got to talk with U.S. Foreign Service Officers, who really pushed my interest in international affairs. I wouldn't have even known about these fields and opportunities without Gatton.”
United States Congressman Brett Guthrie expressed his congratulations to these students, stating, “Congratulations Reagan Phelps, Diego Moreno, Brennan McElfresh, and Quinn Miller on receiving appointments to our nation’s prestigious service academies. These students are exemplary representatives of The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science. It is a privilege, especially as a West Point graduate, to nominate hardworking and impressive students from the Second District to U.S. service academies. I was proud to nominate Reagan Phelps of Bardstown and Diego Moreno of Elizabethtown to service academies. I would like to thank all these students for choosing to use their talents to serve our country.”
Each year, over 13,000 candidates start applications with each service academy, while only 5,000 receive congressional or service-connected nominations. Of those, between 1,000 to 1,300 are admitted. Lynette Breedlove, Director of The Gatton Academy, praised these students for saying yes to opportunities while at Gatton. “The Gatton Academy, as part of Western Kentucky University, is in a unique position to offer students many opportunities to explore their interests, challenge themselves, and develop leadership skills. Brennan, Quinn, Diego, and Reagan said yes to opportunities to study abroad, intensely learn critical languages, participate in faculty-mentored research, and serve in leadership roles in our community. They pushed themselves academically and personally by leaving home and starting college two years early in an environment designed to challenge and support them. They made the most of the opportunities that fit them best – a characteristic that will benefit them throughout their lives.”
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented juniors and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Gatton Academy is a recipient of the 2022 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from Insight Into Diversity Magazine and the Innovation Partnership Award from the National Consortium for Secondary STEM Schools.
About the United States Naval Academy: 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. 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.
About the United States Air Force Academy: The Air Force Academy is both a military organization and a university. Much of the Academy is set up like most other Air Force bases, particularly the 10th Air Base Wing, but the superintendent, commandant, dean of faculty and cadet wing are set up in a manner resembling a civilian university.
About the Coast Guard Academy: The United States Coast Guard Academy presents an unrivaled opportunity to attend an elite professional college that charges no tuition and guarantees a challenging and rewarding career upon graduation. Ranked among the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, is proud to educate future leaders of America’s multi-mission, maritime military force. Each year, approximately 200 graduates are commissioned as Coast Guard officers to help ensure the safety, security and stewardship of our nation’s waters.
About the United States Military Academy: The U.S. Military Academy at West Point's mission is "to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army."