Palmetto High School senior Joseph Hunt wants to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. His goal is to be an engineer; possibly an aeronautical engineer and perhaps even a Navy pilot.
To that end, he has been studying hard and completed his Academy application early so he could be certain that he would be in line for the meetings necessary for a recommendation by either a U.S. Senator or Representative. Because he sent in his application early, he has already been contacted by Sen. Bill Nelson’s office for an interview. He was expecting to hear from Sen. Marco Rubio’s office last week and is awaiting word from Rep. Ileana Ros- Lethinen’s staff.
Interviews for the academies are scheduled in October and November. The student meets with representatives from the elected official’s office as well as high-ranking military officers.
Hunt fell in love with the Naval Academy when he attended a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program there in ninth grade.
“The program in the ninth grade was fun and science based. It was something I really loved,” he says. “I remember seeing the senior high school kids who were at the summer seminar program. I made it a goal; I wanted to be one of those kids.”
He returned last summer to attend a program for high school seniors. This time, the program was a snapshot into life as a student at the Naval Academy. It was a challenge physically and mentally.
“We had training with Navy Seals,” he says. “It was a real eye opener.”
Nevertheless, he feels that he excelled in the program and came home enthusiastic about attending Annapolis. He says he does see himself pursuing a military career.
“I see it as honorable; I would say I would make most of it,” he says.
If he is chosen to attend the Naval Academy, he will try out for the swim team as a walk-on. Hunt swims for Palmetto in the sprint races – the 100 and 200 in the breaststroke and freestyle. He also swims in relays.
Last year, he was second in the 100 breaststroke in the regional meet and went to state. This year his goal is to win not only the 100 breaststroke, but the 100 free as well and get into the finals at state.
Hunt has been swimming with the Aqua Kids Sharks club team since she was in the seventh grade. He’s in the pool by 5 a.m. three days a week and has practice again from 5-8 p.m. five days a week.
“Saturdays are the harder practices of the week,” he says.
Hunt volunteered during a couple of summers as a swim coach at the AK Sharks summer camp at Westminster. He also had lifeguard duties. While swimming takes up a lot of time and energy, Hunt believes it has taught him valuable lessons.
“I know it will be an enriching time of my life. It teaches time management,” he says.
While swimming doesn’t leave him with a lot of free time, he still managed to be a part of the National Honor Society and last year was vice president of the Distributive Economic Club of America (DECA). This year he’s moved up to the Junior Achievement class.
“We actually make the products,” he says. “I hope to be a vice president.”
Hunt is a youth leader at St. Louis Catholic Church and a Peer Minister for the Archdiocese of Miami.
Along with applying to the Naval Academy, Hunt is also applying to the University of Florida, the University of Miami, Florida State and Vanderbilt.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld