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Congressman Robert PittengerWith the level of political discourse in this country dropping to a new low each day, I want to take a moment and highlight some of the selfless young men and women who have committed themselves to military service and earned a United States Service Academy appointment this year.

These students exemplify the best of American values – hard work, self-discipline, integrity, and service.

The service academy appointment process is extremely competitive. Only after an applicant is nominated by a Member of Congress or the Vice President can they be appointed by a military academy. Personal essays must be written, letters of recommendation need to be received, and interviews have to be conducted.

The process can take more than six months, which makes it all the more impressive when a student does not receive an appointment, and applies again the following year.

This year, four outstanding students who went through the process in 2014 and did not receive an appointment came back, went through the process again, and saw their hard work pay off with an academy appointment. These students include:

**Mr. Matt Pryor of Mooresville

**Mr. Cullen McGahan of Davidson

**Mr. Reed Guthrie of Charlotte

**Mr. Cole Weber of Charlotte

We all get knocked down in life. Those that succeed get back up. These young men are great examples of what it takes to truly succeed.

This year’s class also includes multiple students who are carrying on their families’ legacy of service.

Mr. Aanand Shah, formerly of Davidson and currently living on the U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan, received an appointment to the Air Force Academy. He will now follow in the footsteps of his mother, Ms. Pina Shah, a captain in the Air Force.

Mr. Will Kwiatkowski of Huntersville has received an appointment to West Point, and will follow two uncles and a grandfather in preparing to serve as an officer in the Army.

We also have Ms. Annalise Heyward of Charlotte, who will become the fifth member of her family to attend the Naval Academy.

America is blessed to have families like the Heywards, Kwiatkowskis, and Shahs, who, generation after generation, continue to stand up for the cause of liberty.

Other appointees include Mr. Cody Maynard of Mooresville, who has dreamed since he was 7 years old of serving his country and is now on his way to West Point.

Mr. Tyler Postorio of Charlotte is two-time All-Conference linebacker and 4 year honor roll student who turned down multiple prestigious scholarship offers to accept an appointment to the Naval Academy.

Mr. Connor Helmendach, a soon to be Eagle Scout and current Student Body President whose friends initially questioned his pursuit of a military academy appointment, is heading to West Point.

Ms. Alyssa Stolz of Stallings, who is active in her community by serving as a mentor for rising 9th graders as they prepare to transition to high school, will attend the Merchant Marine Academy.

One of the best parts of my job is working with America’s next generation of leaders. While this country faces many difficult issues, I am confident with young men and women like these, America will continue to be a beacon of freedom and opportunity for generations to come.

The Ninth Congressional District has received a total of eleven appointments thus far and we expect more over the next few weeks. If you are a local student interested in attending a U.S. Service Academy, please contact my office at 704-362-1060 to learn more about the process.

Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Financial Services Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.

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