Alumnus to promote service academies

Dave Eckardt ’03, a senior at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, will be  at school tomorrow to talk to students about the opportunities available at service academies.

Eckardt has returned to school every year since his graduation to promote service academies, which, besides Annapolis, include the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

In past years, he has mainly discussed the academies with interested students, but ideally Eckardt wants to speak to uninterested students as well.

“There’s very little understanding of what the academies actually are,” Eckardt said.
Few students from this school matriculate to service academies.

Brian Sofen ’99 attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated in 2003, and Kimberly Jung ’04 attends West Point and is currently an exchange student at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Eckardt attributes the relatively low interest level at this school to a lack of knowledge, the required military service and the physically demanding nature of the academies.
To be admitted, students must pass a physical fitness exam and a medical examination as well as having high grades and SAT scores. It also requires a nomination from a member of Congress.

Eckardt said he loves the Naval Academy and the unique opportunities it has offered him, from marching in former President Ronald Reagan’s funeral procession to steering nuclear submarines, after receiving temporary top security clearance.

He hopes to become a pilot after serving in the Navy, and the Academy gave him the chance to briefly pilot the F-18 Hornet, a fighter jet, despite his lack of flight experience.
“It’s incredible stuff that most college students don’t get to experience,” Eckardt said. “They also give us leadership experiences here at school that most universities don’t have.”

After graduating from Annapolis, Eckardt plans to go to graduate school to earn his MBA or go to flight school to become a pilot.