SCV students recognized for service academy appointments

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Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, recognized 16 students who were selected by his office as appointees to three service academies and the Naval Academy Preparatory School on Saturday afternoon during a reception at the Embassy Suites on Newhall Ranch Road. 

Shine Lim, a West Point appointee, said she was inspired by two uncles who attended the U.S. Military Academy.  

“They’re just great leaders and I feel like going to West Point would help me grow, not only as an academic person, but also just an overall good person with character and humility,” said Lim, a graduating Valencia High School student. 

United States Representative Mike Garcia, right, presents a U.S. flag and certificate to United States Military Academy Appointee Shine Lim during a reception for Service Academy Appointees at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Valencia in Valencia on Saturday, 060521. Dan Watson/The Signal

Luke Hoelzel, a graduating West Ranch High School student, also received an appointment to West Point. 

“My godfather went there and he led me on that path,” Hoelzel said. “I’ve always had a military interest to go to one of the academies because it has great academics and really focuses on leadership, which I think is a key attribute to being well in society.” 

Joseph Ahart will be joining Lim and Hoelzel at West Point. He was motivated by his grandfather, a World War II veteran, to attend the U.S. Military Academy. 

“I had the opportunity to meet him many times before he passed away. It was a very big influence on my life,” said Ahart, a graduating Hart High School student. “West Point is not just a place where history is made, but where people who make history are made. The opportunity to go to that kind of an institution is not something I can pass up.” 

Kemp Fairbanks was one of five students from California’s 25th Congressional District recognized for their appointment to the U.S. Military Academy.  

“I’m excited to go (to West Point) because it’s going to turn me into one of the greatest Army officers on the planet. It’s a great school,” said Fairbanks, a graduating Vasquez High student. “I’m going to learn a lot and I can’t wait to serve my country.” 

United States Representative Mike Garcia, right, presents a U.S. flag and certificate to United States Naval Academy Appointee Izabella Gorczynski during a reception for Service Academy Appointees at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Valencia in Valencia on Saturday, 060521. Dan Watson/The Signal

Izabella Gorczynski, a graduating Saugus High student, was honored Saturday for being appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy. Gorczynski said she’s motivated by service and looks forward to the camaraderie at the Naval Academy. 

“It’s an instant community,” she said. “We all have this one overlying thing in common.” 

Gorczynski was one of six recognized on Saturday headed to Annapolis, where Garcia, a Saugus High graduate, also started his military education in the 1990s. 

Speaking to the appointees and their family members, Garcia said events like Saturday’s appointee reception are his favorites. 

“It’s not just sending them off to a school, it’s sending them off to a career,” Garcia told parents, stating that their children will reach their full potential in the military. 

Garcia told appointees, who he awarded a certificate and a folded and framed American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol Building, that they were about to “embark on something very special.” 

“What you’re doing is one of the most important things you can be doing, not only as 18- to 20-year-olds, but as Americans,” he said. 

United States Representative Mike Garcia tells about his first days at the United States Navel Academy during a reception for Service Academy Appointees at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Valencia in Valencia on Saturday, 060521. Dan Watson/The Signal

Garcia said the secret to surviving the academies is to be humble and a team player. 

“Be excellent without being arrogant about it,” he said, welcoming them and their parents to the military family.  

Also appointed to the Naval Academy were Benjamin Valdez, of Stevenson Ranch, and Shane Sypher, of Castaic.  

Garcia’s office also appointed Hunter Romine, of Santa Clarita, to the U.S. Military Academy. 

Kevin Duong and Chapman Wolf, both of Castaic, and Gabriella Meccia, of Simi Valley were appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

“Our kids are more qualified than anybody else’s,” said Tom Dierckman, the special assistant for service academy nomination with Garcia’s office. “We’re very proud of the appointees and their families.” 

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