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Hampton senior prepares for Naval Academy

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Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Jake Kocsis

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Bethany Hofstetter
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
 

Jake Kocsis has always had a desire to serve others, and this summer he will embark on a journey that in the end will allow him to serve his country.

Kocsis, 18, a senior at Hampton High School, is one of 1,190 students accepted into the freshman class of the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., one of the most elite post-secondary institutions in the country.

“I wasn't surprised because he is one of those kids who just shines,” said Marguerite Sciulli, Kocsis' former English teacher and current assistant principal at Hampton High School. “Jake is a hard worker. He's somebody who will constantly try to improve what he's doing … He has the motivation to do more, and I think the Naval Academy saw that.”

Kocsis recognized his desire to serve and protect others as a lifeguard at the Hampton Community Pool. He spent last summer at a weeklong camp at the United States Coast Guard Academy, in New London, Conn., where he got a taste of military life.

“It was a lot of work and a lot of getting yelled at,” Kocsis said. “But on the last day, the cadres let us talk. I felt like I spent a lot of time with them, and they were my friends. It was the sense of camaraderie I really liked.”

He chose the Naval Academy because it incorporated an international aspect, which he also is passionate about.

Kocsis and his family spent two years living in Slovakia where, he said, he developed an appreciation for the privileges he experiences as an American.

“We as Americans are very blessed in the things we can do,” Kocsis said. “It stuck with me. I feel we have a duty to help other people who can't help themselves.”

Kocsis was accepted to the Naval Academy based on an involved application process that included a medical evaluation, physical test and academic credentials as well as multiple outside recommendations from teachers and coaches and a legislative nomination from former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire.

Kocsis is a member of the National Honor Society and is on the varsity swim team. He also is a member of Jewish Community Center's club swimming team in Squirrel Hill, and Lend Our Hands, a service club at the high school.

Kocsis is president of Model United Nations and treasurer of the Spanish club.

As Kocsis begins to focus on the next stage of his life, he now has added a training regimen with Realize the Athlete Within, or R.A.W. Training, in Hampton, to prepare for the physical challenges of the Naval Academy.

Kocsis will begin his Naval Academy training, known as “plebe summer,” on June 27. The training will last through mid-August.

“I know it's going to be a summer of very little sleep and a lot of yelling, a lot of discipline, but I know I will come out better,” Kocsis said.

Kocsis hopes to major in engineering, and when he graduates, he will be an active duty commissioned officer in the Navy.

“I really want to be in some way in the Armed Forces because I want to give back to the country,” he said.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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