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Miller attends Naval Academy Summer Seminar

Miller+sits+on+the+bank+of+the+Chesapeake+Bay+with+other+other+members+of+her+platoon%2C+preparing+to+do+another+round+of+sit-ups.+%0A%22We+had+to+do+mock+sea+trials%2C+which+for+the+real+midshipmen+is+15+hours+straight+of+physical+intensity.+For+us%2C+it+was+only+six+hours++and+it+focuses+more+on+team+building.+At+one+point%2C+we+were+told+to+rub+sand+all+over+ourselves+and+then+do+a+variety+of+core+exercises%2C+including+a+human+tunnel+exercise.%22+
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Miller attends Naval Academy Summer Seminar

Miller sits on the bank of the Chesapeake Bay with other other members of her platoon, preparing to do another round of sit-ups.

Miller sits on the bank of the Chesapeake Bay with other other members of her platoon, preparing to do another round of sit-ups. "We had to do mock sea trials, which for the real midshipmen is 15 hours straight of physical intensity. For us, it was only six hours and it focuses more on team building. At one point, we were told to rub sand all over ourselves and then do a variety of core exercises, including a human tunnel exercise."

Courtesy of Hannah Miller

Miller sits on the bank of the Chesapeake Bay with other other members of her platoon, preparing to do another round of sit-ups. "We had to do mock sea trials, which for the real midshipmen is 15 hours straight of physical intensity. For us, it was only six hours and it focuses more on team building. At one point, we were told to rub sand all over ourselves and then do a variety of core exercises, including a human tunnel exercise."

Courtesy of Hannah Miller

Courtesy of Hannah Miller

Miller sits on the bank of the Chesapeake Bay with other other members of her platoon, preparing to do another round of sit-ups. "We had to do mock sea trials, which for the real midshipmen is 15 hours straight of physical intensity. For us, it was only six hours and it focuses more on team building. At one point, we were told to rub sand all over ourselves and then do a variety of core exercises, including a human tunnel exercise."

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Jumping right into summer break, senior Hannah Miller spent her first week waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning in Bancroft Hall, the world’s largest single dormitory. Being one of the 2,000 high school students accepted, Miller attended the US Naval Academy Summer Seminar in Annapolis, Maryland. Split into three parts, Miller took part in the second session, where around 800 rising seniors had the opportunity to figure out if the academy was a fit for for their future.

Besides her father’s side of the family having experience with the academy, none of Miller’s immediate family has had experience in the military, which made her skeptical before taking a two hour trip to a strict environment, especially where the smallest things matter the most.

“As soon as you show up, the first thing they tell you is ‘You need to tuck in your shirt. From now on whenever you’re here, your shirt must be tucked in. You will now address everyone above [you] as sir or ma’am,’ and so I tucked my shirt in and I walked in… I’ve never had any military exposure, so I was very uncomfortable, I didn’t know if I was saying things correctly or incorrectly,” Miller said.

Every morning consisted of some sort of physical training, one of the days involving work with the Navy Seal. While the physical aspect was a big part of the seminar, the camp also touched base with intellectual and leadership aspects as well. Academically speaking, there were some days where students were required to take classes.

Students were split up into seven-member coed squads, which usually included two females in each. These were the groups that seminar attendees did activities with, ate meals with and completed leadership tasks with. One of the memorable moments Miller shared with her squad was voluntarily participating in a plebe summer style meal. Plebe summer is six weeks of intense mental and physical training before students enter their freshman, or plebe, year at the academy.

“You have to sit on the front four inches of your chair, back straight, eyes on the boat, which is where you stare straight ahead, kind of zoned out, and you can’t make eye contact with anyone. Every bite you took, you had to square off, which is where you bring it straight up, [then] 90 degrees to your mouth, and then straight back out and down,” Miller said. Students were not allowed to smile, instead were required to keep all bearings.

While the majority of the seminar was spent participating in physical and leadership activities, students were given some free time. One of the major things the seminar required was to learn and memorize rates, which could be songs of the academy, certain laws of the Navy, or mission statements.

“A lot of the times we spent time memorizing [rates], or trying to memorize them and falling asleep because you’re so tired. You don’t go to sleep until 11 or 11:30 a.m. every night, and then you have to wake up at 5:30 every morning, and you’re just physically drained throughout the day,” Miller said. 

For Miller, memorizing rates was no problem, and there was one night when it came in handy. On the last night of the seminar, an indoc night had taken place, being a challenging night that required students to stand at attention for half an hour with their rates memorized and ready to be said aloud.

“You have to sound off which means you have to say everything loudly and sandwich it sir, answer, sir or ma’am. If you mess up, they yell at you or they can make you drop and do push ups. I had memorized my rates, the hardest part was standing at attention for half an hour straight. My legs, knees and feet were killing me, but it wasn’t too bad,” Miller said.

Throughout the week, one of the thoughts that frequently came across Miller’s mind was how different her experience would be if a friend or someone she knew was attending the academy with her. Going into the seminar not knowing anyone, Miller found the unfamilarness and uncomfortableness she experienced in the environment and with others to be big factors in discovering more about self identity. 

“I’m going to always remember that you’re capable of so much more than you realize. I feel like people get stuck in a routine, and stuck in this shell of who they think they should be and who they think they are, [like] going to to school every day, or going to work every day,” Miller said.  “When you’re truly forced to move out your comfort zone and what you’re familiar with, you can be a totally different person, and you’re capable of so much more… The camp provided everyone with a great opportunity to find that.”

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