Bonac Senior Accepted to Naval Academy

Eamon Spencer, left, with Representative Lee Zeldin.

Thirty-four Long Island high school seniors were honored last week by Representative Lee Zeldin of the First Congressional District, who had nominated them for admission to one of the United States service academies, namely the Navy, Military, Air Force, and Merchant Marines. A nomination by a member of Congress is required in order for candidates to be considered.

One of those students, Eamon Spencer, a senior at East Hampton High School, received something more than a congratulatory handshake from the congressman that day: confirmation of his acceptance by the Naval Academy, which is in Annapolis where the Severn River flows into Chesapeake Bay, about an hour from Washington, D.C.

Eamon was one of only two students present that day to be accepted and the only student applying to a service academy from East Hampton, Sag Harbor, or Bridgehampton. It was a thrilling moment, he said, when Mr. Zeldin asked if anyone had heard back from their academies and no one raised a hand. Then Mr. Zeldin asked Eamon and another student to approach the podium, where he delivered the good news. “I’m still taking it all in,” the high schooler said following the event.

Acceptance into the Naval Academy is remarkable in itself. The average acceptance rate is about 9 percent, making it as challenging as some Ivy League colleges. Given the steep odds, Eamon applied to several colleges as well, which are expected to notify him of their decisions around the end of March. Only after that, he said, will he decide whether to become a midshipman, as naval undergraduates are called, or take a civilian route.

“I first started considering the Naval Academy near the end of my junior year,” he said. “I had listened to stories from my grandfather for years about his work in which he helped engineer planes for the Navy.” In addition, he said his father’s relatives, who are from England, served in the British military during both world wars.

Eamon was born in Singapore and raised in East Hampton, so he was “constantly surrounded by water,” he said, making the Navy a natural choice. He admitted that after visiting the campus in Annapolis, he could imagine himself there, something he did not experience while touring the other service institutions.

Instead of paying tuition for college, the young men and women who enter the Naval Academy receive a monthly stipend and then make a five-year military commitment as paid officers in the Navy or Marines. If they choose to leave the service to pursue a civilian career, the world awaits them. Graduates from service academies are in high demand and they regularly rank in the top 15 universities and colleges for salary potential.

According to Karen Kuneth, the counseling coordinator at East Hampton High School, only two East Hampton students since 2014 have attended one of the U. S. service academies. 

Asked what set him apart, Eamon said, “I think on top of being a strong student, my extracurriculars helped distance me. I have participated in sports every season all throughout high school, been involved in various clubs and community service, and I am captain of my volleyball and indoor track teams. I participated in leadership programs through the Rotary Youth Leadership Association, and I have worked full-time summer jobs since I was 14 years old.”

For high schoolers contemplating applying to one of the country’s service academies, his number-one piece of advice is to start early. “It is a very long application and deadlines come at you fast. So much time and effort has to go into this application and not only are you applying to the Naval Academy, but also to your congressperson and senators,” he said.

And if the infamously strict and sometimes conservative environment is offputting to many teenagers, it is not for Eamon who believes he is most productive when working in a highly disciplined environment.

Currently, the high-achieving senior is busy rehearsing for his role in East Hampton High School’s production of “Billy Elliot,” which will be staged in early March.