Virgin Islanders accepted to military academies

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Five Virgin Islands students are heading off to various military academies and preparatory schools in the next few weeks.

Two students are going to West Point; one is going to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy; one is going to the U.S. Naval Academy; and one is going to the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School.

The nation's military academies are highly competitive four-year colleges. Tuition is free, but the students must serve in that specific U.S. military branch for a number of years after graduation.

West Point

Jaleel Christopher and Eliji Mondesir, both St. Croix residents, are headed to West Point, N.Y., to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Christopher is a member of the Good Hope School's 2013 graduating class and was accepted directly into the academy.

He said when he decided he wanted to be an Army officer, his father introduced him to West Point.

"Once introduced to West Point, I was very impressed by the program, and I found it to be the best way to pursue my dream of being an Army officer," Christopher said.

He plans to study electrical engineering and will participate in soccer and volleyball and he wants to play the drums in the West Point jazz band.

Mondesir graduated from Country Day School in 2012, and attended the military academy's prep school program last year. After successfully completing the one-year program, he was offered an appointment to West Point.

Both students will arrive at West Point on July 1 for a six-and-a-half week basic cadet training course prior to the start of the school year.

The two men will join fellow Crucian Matthew Car, who currently is studying at West Point.

U.S. Naval Academy

Alejandro Perez, a 2012 graduate of the St. Croix Educational Complex, will attend the U.S. Naval Academy after successfully completing a year at the academy's prep school.

"I lived in Belgium for 10 years on a military base, so that got me interested in the military," he said.

His mother was a contractor for the Army, he said.

When Perez moved to St. Croix in 2010 with his family, he met an alumnus of the Naval Academy and was encouraged to apply.

After his year in the prep school, he is looking forward to moving on.

"It feels good; I think I'm ready," he said.

Perez said he wants to study aeronautics or international relations and try his hand at being on the rowing crew.

He will arrive at the academy today for his basic training program.

Perez joins Midshipmen Eric Wilson of St. Thomas and Bryson Mays of St. Croix at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

U.S. Coast Guard

St. Thomian sailor Nikki Barnes will attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy after successfully completing a year at the U.S. Coast Guard Scholars Program in Marion, Ala.

A 2012 Antilles School graduate, Barnes is known for her sailing skills, but she had to give that up during her year at the academy's preparatory program.

"That's one thing I had to sacrifice as soon as I had to go there, so that's one thing that I'm going to hopefully start as soon as I get to the academy," she said.

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy already has recruited Barnes for the sailing team and invited her to sail with them during spring break this year.

All graduates from the Coast Guard Academy receive a bachelor's of science degree upon graduation, but she wants to focus her studies on marine biology.

She plans to put in a 20-year career with the Coast Guard, although her post-graduate commitment is for five years.

"I think I'm definitely going to stay in," she said.

Barnes will report to the New London, Conn. campus July 1 for an eight-week intensive basic training.

"We'll get yelled at from day one," she said. "So, I'm not really looking forward to that, but I'm definitely looking forward to getting the year going in sailing."

Barnes will join Dale Carty III of St. Thomas, Jamen Descartes of St. Thomas and Rafael Almonte of St. Croix, at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School

Ivanna Eudora Kean 2013 graduate Peron Trotman will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School, with the hope that he will be offered appointment to the academy next year.

His brothers are in the military, and he wanted to join too. However, he also wanted to go to college.

"I thought, where can you join the military and further your education," he said.

He applied and was offered a spot in the prep school. At first he was going to go to a traditional college, but then he thought better of it.

"The Air Force Academy is a privilege to go to, so I thought why pass up this once in a lifetime experience?" he said.

Trotman wants to study engineering, perhaps aeronautical engineering, and he wants to try out for the football team and maybe try golf.

He leaves for school July 15.

"My goal is to fly the B-2 stealth bombers in the future," he said.

Christopher Edwards of St. Croix currently is enrolled at the Air Force Academy.

Students interested in an appointment to a U.S. military academy must contact V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen.

Each Congressional representative is allotted nomination slots to four of the five service academies.

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy does not require a nomination.

To be eligible for a nomination, students must live in the Virgin Islands and be at least 17 years old but not older than 23.

They must be a U.S. citizen, unmarried, not pregnant and have no legal obligation to support children or other dependants.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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