GRAND FORKS – Two Red River High School graduates of the Class of 2022 are excited about the prospect of attending prestigious U.S. military academies this fall. They consider their appointments an important step in their journey to becoming leaders in their respective fields and making an impact in their chosen careers, they said.
Both have a family history in the military and, on top of that, they’ve been best friends for years.
Campbell Dorsey is following in her father’s footsteps as she enters the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Brent Dorsey graduated from that institution in 1998.
Elizabeth Corcoran is heading to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Her mother, Gwendolyn Corcoran, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York in 1995.
Elizabeth’s mother, then Gwendolyn Langton, was not among the first female students to enroll at West Point, but “she was one of very few women there at that time,” said Elizabeth Corcoran.
Over time, more women have been admitted to military academies, including Corcoran and Dorsey. They were mutually supportive in their quest to choose a college, especially in their applications to the military academies.
“We helped each other, going through the process,” Dorsey said. “We both applied to other colleges too.”
As she considered her college career, Dorsey said she wasn’t pressured by her parents to apply to a military academy. In her freshman year in high school, “when I was going through the search for a college, I was not sure what I wanted to study,” she said. “I just knew the impact I wanted my career to have.”
Her family has supported her and her siblings in “whatever we wanted to choose,” she said.
Dorsey has a strong interest in politics, math and science, she said, and “I know what I want to be feeling” in her chosen field.
She selected the Air Force Academy for its program in cybersecurity.
As she was growing up, Corcoran had wanted to be a pilot, she said, but “that has changed.” Her plan now is to study nuclear engineering at the Naval Academy.
“They have an amazing program there,” she said. “Navy ships are run with nuclear reactors.”
Both of these young women are preparing for a significant life transition.
When they begin basic training later this month at their respective campuses, they will forfeit their cell phones for six weeks, Corcoran said. “We’ll be cut off from our families. They (academy officials) want you to form bonds with your classmates.”
Corcoran is looking forward to exploring many different areas of study at the Naval Academy, where students are encouraged “to try all manner of things,” which makes it such an attractive choice academically, she said.
Ultimately, “I could be happy in several different fields,” she said. “I’d like to be in a job I’m happy doing and fulfilled doing.”
Kris Arason, principal of Red River High School, has no doubt Dorsey and Corcoran will be successful. He’s observed how they have grown in the past four years.
“We are extremely proud of these two students,” he said. “Campbell and Liz have been leaders and role models in the classroom, extracurricular and cocurricular activities, and have excelled in all areas. Both students are deserving of the prestigious honor to attend our military academies.”
Norm Dutot of Grand Forks, as the Blue and Gold Officer of the U.S. Naval Academy, recruits and works with high school students who express interest in applying to that academy.
Dutot helps students through the application process, including conducting a formal interview with the applicant.
The process for admission to military academies is extensive, including several interviews and submitting letters of nomination from a U.S. senator or representative from the applicant’s state of residence.
Dorsey and Corcoran are the only two Grand Forks Public Schools students Dutot is aware of who have been admitted to U.S. military academies this fall, he said.
Each military academy “is looking for certain things in their candidates,” Dorsey said, “and they take a lot of pride” in enrolling students from all over the country who reflect diversity in all aspects of life.
The academies are seeking candidates who have “an aptitude for leading others,” Corcoran said. “They have a big emphasis on building leaders.”
Students’ expenses — such as tuition, room and board, and other fees — will largely be covered by the institution. In exchange, after earning their undergraduate degrees, the graduates will serve several years in the military.
When she completes her college degree, Dorsey expects to be commissioned into the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Space Force, she said.
Corcoran will likely receive a commission in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marines, she said.
While some may question whether members of this generation
are as patriotic
as many older Americans, both Corcoran and Dorsey firmly maintain that their peers do care deeply about their country.
“Everyone really does care,” Dorsey said, “and everyone has different ways of expressing that.”
She and others her age want to make a “positive impact” on the nation’s future.
Dorsey’s father served 20 years in the Air Force, she said. Her parents instilled in her “the idea of service — not just to the country, but to people in general,”
The message was “whatever you do, make sure it’s impactful,” Dorsey said. “Make a positive and meaningful impact on other people’s lives.”
Considering the world stage, Corcoran said “Everyone is quite passionate about what’s happening now. Some have a darker view (and think) the future seems bleak right now.”
She and her peers discuss political issues “all the time,” she said.
Corcoran’s parents both served in the U.S. Army, she said. She is grateful for the support she’s received and the opportunities that lie ahead.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of my family and Campbell,” Corcoran said.
She envisions herself possibly pursuing a career in the Navy, she said. “I definitely love this country, and I want to make it a little bit better.”
Dorsey is eager to enroll at the Air Force Academy “and meet people I’m going to be spending the next four years of my life with,” she said. “It’s scary to be starting something new, but it’s also exciting.”
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