Rep. Pete Aguilar held a virtual send-off meeting on June 9 with Inland Empire students successfully nominated by his office to attend US Service Academies. In order to attend a service academy, students need to be nominated by their members of Congress. Students in CA-31 were nominated after a rigorous interview and application process that included interviews with local veterans and former academy attendees.
Eight nominees from the 31st District were admitted to service academies and will begin their educations this summer. As a condition of attendance, each student has committed to serving as an active duty member of their respective military branch upon completion of their education. Below is a list of each student and the academy they’ll be attending:
- Cassandra Davis of Cajon High School in San Bernardino will attend the US Air Force Academy
- Isaac Folorunso of Rancho Cucamonga High School will attend the US Military Academy at West Point
- Matt Marinkovich of Redlands East Valley High School will attend the US Naval Academy
- Christina Marquez of Redlands High School will attend the US Air Force Academy
- Ethan Nguyen of Damien High School in Upland will attend the US Naval Academy
- Noah Sorenson of Redlands East Valley High School will attend the US Merchant Marine Academy
- Gillian Valdez of Grand Terrace High School the US Naval Academy
- Isaiah Velez of Rancho Cucamonga High School will attend the US Military Academy at West Point
One of the students, Matt Markinovich from Redlands, first became interested in pursuing a career in service during a meeting with Congressman Aguilar on an 8th grade field trip.
“When I went on a field trip to Washington, DC in 8th grade, I learned a lot about what it took to build this country and what it takes to defend it. Meeting Congressman Aguilar and seeing Congress in action that day inspired me to think about how I could serve my own community and give back to the teachers, advisors and mentors who’d done so much for me. When the Congressman came to my high school a few years later to give us information about the service academy process, I knew that this was a way I could give back to the community and the country. Ever since then, my focus has been on service and I know the Naval Academy is going to give me that opportunity to serve and to lead. I’m excited to go to the academy, it feels right, like I’m on the right path,” said Markinovich.
Inland Empire students interested in applying to attend a US Service Academy can learn more on Rep. Aguilar’s website. Applications for the class of 2026 are due by November 1, 2021.