ST. GEORGE – With the school year winding down, high school students everywhere are looking forward to a break from the books that summer will bring. Daniel Shirley is looking forward to the summer as well, but for an entirely different reason. In June, the 15 year old joins a select group of students from around the county for summer camp at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
For Daniel Shirley, it’s a dream come true.
“He’s wanted to go to Annapolis since he was seven,” Michelle Shirley, Daniel Shirley’s mother said.
Each summer, the US Naval Academy, often referred to simply as Annapolis, holds a weeklong summer camp called STEM. STEM is the Academy’s acronym for Technology, Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Up to 50,000 applications are submitted per year, out of which only 1,200 applicants are picked and spread over three separate weeks in June. Activities that Daniel Shirley and his follow Academy-goers will participate in include: a trip to the National Air and Space Museum and a tour of Washington DC, as well as studying engineering disasters like the Titanic and Ford Pinto. Classes focusing on biometrics, computers and coding, cryptography, electronics, forensics, robotics, and additional fields of studying are also provided.
By the end of the week, the students will be able to show off what they’ve learned to family and friends.
While Daniel Shirley is rightfully excited to be going to the Naval Academy, it wasn’t an easy process. Requirements for applicants to STEM are very high. Potential candidates must have a letter of recommendation from their congressman, must display exceptional academic performance, and must show their community spirit via acts of volunteer service.
“You need a GPA of 3.8 or higher just to be thought of,” Daniel Shirley said.
When asked what he thought about the high standards the Naval Academy asked of STEM candidates, Daniel Shirley, rather than express any exasperation, welcomed the opportunity to stretch his character.
“It’s a challenge,” he said, “It makes me work harder.”
While Daniel Shirley is excitedly looking forward to going to the US Naval Academy, it’s just a step in a bigger plan he’s had for many years now.
“I want to go into the Navy,” he said. To accomplish this goal, he’s always wanted to attend the Naval Academy and graduate as an officer. From there, he plans on enrolling in the United States Navy’s Judge Advocate General program.
Out of the 1,200 students who will be attending the Naval Academy’s STEM summer camp, only 375 will be considered for future enrollment after their high school graduation. Daniel Shirley said that he hopes to be one of those chosen to wear the uniform of a US Naval Academy cadet.
Daniel Shirley is looking to continue his service around the community. For anyone who has a lead on service opportunities, please e-mail Michelle Shirley at [email protected].
Copyright St. George News