Camden Hills senior eager for challenge of military career'A duty to give back'
Lincolnville — For Grace Harrison, serving in the military is a family tradition she wants to carry on.
Her grandfather went to Vietnam with the Army; her father was in the Navy, and is now in the Merchant Marine; and her older brother, Taylor, is at West Point, she said.
Harrison, a senior at Camden Hills Regional High School, hopes either to follow her brother to West Point or go to the Naval Academy at Annapolis. She has been nominated to both, plus the Air Force Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud. Given the small number of nominations legislators are allowed to make each year, that already makes her part of a highly selective group of elite young achievers.
She expects to hear whether she's been appointed to one or more academies by mid-February.
After graduation, she wants to join the Army Medical Corps or its counterpart in the Navy, which accept two percent of each graduating class, according to their websites. Harrison said she had known she wanted to be a doctor since she was little.
Harrison said she feels "a duty to give back to my country," and military service would give her the chance to do that.
She hopes to combine a military career with having a family, she said.
It goes without saying that nominees to the nation's military academies must have top grades. In addition, Harrison has been on the Midcoast Maine Equestrian Team, based in Nobleboro, during high school. She keeps two horses at her home in Lincolnville and stables her two dressage horses at Bald Mountain Farm in Camden.
She played basketball for Camden Hills as a freshman, and is now on the sailing team; she also enjoys skiing and snowboarding.
Harrison also gives her time to help others, both inside and outside of school. She has belonged to Camden Hills' International Club, which serves the school's foreign students, for the last two years. She was co-president last year, and was re-elected this year. Club adviser and foreign language teacher Don Mann said Harrison, who is also in his French V class, “has a keen interest in travel.”
She has made a Facebook page for the club, which she uses to let members know about club meetings and activities, he said. For the Empty Bowls fundraiser this year, Harrison and some other club members helped out by making bowls, Mann said. In exchange, ceramics teacher Russell Kahn will show them how to make mugs with the flags of their home countries on them as a gift for this year's international students.
Harrison “is taking on more responsibility this year and being more of a leader,” he said. He added that she has been a good mentor to others on the sailing team, including his daughter Molly, a freshman. “She has good people skills,” he said.
She has also been co-captain of a tennis four fun team at Midcoast Recreational Center in Rockport for two years, teaching tennis to special needs adults. She has enjoyed getting to know the players, and has grown close to all of them, she said.
Last summer, Harrison attended the Navy Summer Seminar, a chance for high school students between their junior and senior years to get a taste of life at the nation's military academies. Admission to the week-long program is highly selective. Participants attend classes at the Naval Academy and take part in physical training and drills. They also experience indoctrination, where a senior officer screams at recruits, up close and personal.
She said she enjoyed the camaraderie with others in the program, and liked being challenged to her limits.
“It's very cool to see how far you can actually go.”
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.
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