Keith Schneider, 18, a senior at Bishop Hendricken, has been nominated to enter the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, one of the world's top leader development institutions.
While his family doesn’t have a military background, he nevertheless became interested in armed forces. He said he admires the men and women who serve the country.
“Whenever you see someone in uniform, people always stop and say how proud they are of them,” said Schneider. “I would like to have that feeling of accomplishment.”
A resident of Coventry, as well as South Kingstown, as his father resides in Coventry and his mother lives in South Kingstown, Schneider recently applied for the opportunity through Senator Jack Reed and Congressman Jim Langevin.
After Langevin’s independent advisory board conducted a review of this year’s applications, the Congressman nominated Schneider, plus two other high school seniors from Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District, including Jonathan Buterbaugh of North Kingstown Senior High School for the U.S. Naval Academy, and Olivia DeSpirito of East Greenwich High School for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The advisory committee, which Langevin formed during his first year in Congress to guarantee a vigorous review of applicants, consists of local veterans of the Academies and educators. Members held individual interviews with candidates and examined their school records, College Board scores, extracurricular activities and other qualifications.
From there, the Congressman can select one applicant as his “principal nomination” to each branch, with up to nine additional qualified students receiving nominations that allow them to compete for the Academies’ other available appointments. All residents of the Second District between the ages of 17 and 23 are eligible.
In a press release, Langevin said he is “always impressed by the high volume of quality applications we receive from students eager to serve their country and our youth never fail to give me great faith in our future. I thank the members of my advisory board for their diligence and commitment to ensuring a thorough process for making these extremely difficult decisions.”
Schneider’s first interview was held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the second took place nearly a month later. While most teens would have been nervous, Schneider said he was at ease when he visited Langevin at his office at 300 Centerville Road.
“I was very relaxed,” he said. “Congressman Langevin told me how proud he was that I wanted to go there and let me know how serious of an undertaking it is.”
Schneider said he understands the honor of the experience. Further, his parents are thrilled.
“They are really proud of me,” said Schneider. “My dad works for Raytheon Company in Portsmouth, one of the contractors for the military, so he knows a lot of military personnel. My mom was telling everyone that I got the nomination. I’m very happy that I was selected.”
Technically, he hasn’t officially been accepted, however, he simply needs to finish a fitness assessment, and he already passed a mental evaluation in addition to the interviews.
If for any reason West Point doesn’t happen, he is looking at Pennsylvania State, Boston University and the University of Virginia. He’s thinking about majoring in engineering. He is also interested in learning more about the Navy Reserve Office Training Corp.
One glance at Schneider’s resume shows that he’s capable of attending each of the above-mentioned colleges, as he has earned spots in the National Honor Society, as well as the French, English and Mathematics Honor Societies, is part of the school’s Arts Academy and plays saxophone in the jazz band.
He also is a member of Hendricken’s Academic Math Team for which he competed in Rhode Island and New England math meets, along with Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, the Purple Comet Math Meet and WPI Math Meets.
Math is certainly his strong point, as he said he is enrolled in AP Calculus and Physics this year. Moreover, he scored 790 in math, 680 in reading and 610 in writing on his SATs, for a total of 2080.
He has been a Boy Scout since first grade and became an Eagle Scout through Troop 15 during the summer when he completed his final project, which was landscaping work at South Kingstown Nursing and Rehabilitation center in South County. Additionally, he served as the Troop Patrol Leader and bugler.
Schneider has spent a great deal of his leisure time helping others at the medical lab at South County Hospital, volunteering for the Summer Special Olympics by assisting competitors in swimming events, plus tutoring classmates in pre-calculus.
If that isn’t enough, he is a captain of Hendricken’s swim team and has worked as a lifeguard in South Kingstown, as he was a member of the RAMS Swim Club from 2000 to 2010. Further, he volunteers as a summer camp den leader for Cub Scouts two weeks each summer at Camp Aquapaug in Wakefield.
When he isn’t studying, doing extracurricular activities or volunteering, he enjoys spending time with his friends.
“We like to play video games,” Schneider said.
Next year’s submissions for the academies are due by the end of October 2012. West Point's mission is to educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,400 and each year approximately 1,000 cadets join the Long Gray Line as they graduate and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.