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Pioneer Valley High School, Career Center Specialist Karen Apple was among the 150 educators, from across the country, who was selected to participate in the fall Centers of Influence program hosted by the United States Naval Academy recently.

The purpose of the event was to learn more about the United States Naval Academy and how educators can better inform, inspire and assist interested students who may want to pursue a career in the United States Navy. The program highlighted the rigorous academic, athletic and extracurricular components required to be considered eligible for this challenging educational opportunity. Interested high school students should be cognizant of the fact they should create a strategic plan as early as possible, to become more diverse and better prepared for the opportunity and this program provides educators with the tools to assist them.

Details on how to build an impressive portfolio was provided, so educators can direct high school students along the way. Although, the preparation and application process can be tedious, the program outlined the types of individuals who would be the best potential candidates. The academy seeks those who possess strength, moral character and who have an understanding of leadership. They look for candidates through a lens that projects the “whole person concept.” Although, the program is very rigorous by design the academy understands the necessity of mentoring. Advisors, professors, former academy graduates, etc., help provide support to Midshipmen, so they don’t walk through this intense educational and training program alone.

Individuals from various departments and ranks, such as the Superintendent of the USNA, the Academic Dean and Provost, the Commandant of the Academy, as well as current Midshipmen, brought a reality to the program, its purpose and goals as they shared from their perspective. The academy is
a four year program and every Midshipman, both male and female, graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree. Needless to say, students are educated on a myriad of subjects and matters and gain insight from a global perspective. Experiences such as study abroad, language immersion, faculty led cultural opportunities, foreign cruises and professional engagements are just a few of the benefits students have access to.

According to Ms. Apple, “this event was a very enlightening and exciting experience. Having the ability to see many components of the “Yard,” such as the college, dorms, chapel, athletic fields, have lunch with the Midshipmen and end our journey with dinner at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium; it was an experience that will not be forgotten. I feel very fortunate to have been selected to participate in this opportunity and look forward to sharing all that I have learn

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.