Kearny’s Mikael J. Fernandez, a graduate of High Tech High School in Secaucus, and the son of Michael Fernandez and Josie Millan Fernandez, will be inducted into the Naval Academy Class of 2027 on June 29, marking the beginning of six challenging weeks of basic midshipman training during Plebe Summer.
Approximately 1,200 candidates from the entire country are selected each year for the academy’s “plebe” or freshman class, and each student is required to participate in Plebe Summer. During this time, plebes have no access to television, movies, the internet, or music and restricted access to cell phones. They are only permitted to make three calls during the six weeks of Plebe Summer.
The pressure and rigor of Plebe Summer is carefully designed to help plebes prepare for their first academic year at the Naval Academy and the four years of challenge that awaits them. As the summer progresses, the new midshipmen rapidly assimilate basic skills in seamanship, navigation, damage control, sailing and handling yard patrol craft.
Plebes also learn infantry drill and how to shoot 9 mm pistols and M-16 rifles.
Other daily training sessions involve moral, mental, physical and professional development and team-building skills. Activities include swimming, martial arts, basic rock climbing and obstacle, endurance and confidence courses designed to develop physical, mental and team-building skills. Some 40 hours are devoted to the instruction of infantry drill and five formal parades.
Founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy today is a prestigious four-year service academy that prepares midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically to be professional officers in the naval service. More than 4,400 men and women representing every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries make up the student body, known as the Brigade of Midshipmen. Upon graduation, midshipmen earn a bachelor of science degree in a choice of 26 different subject majors and go on to serve at least five years of service as commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.
While the incoming class is relatively small, last year, for example, the Naval Academy received approximately 13,000 applications.
1 of 3 from the same high school
Mikael is one of three from High Tech High School heading to the academy late this summer. But you’ll forgive us for focusing on our local hero this go-round.
“I am very proud of Mikael,” mom Josie says. “We do not come from a military family and his desire to serve truly comes from him. During his sophomore year when he came to us with the desire to apply to the Naval Academy, my only thought was that I knew that he was capable and encouraged him to find out what it took to get in.”
Getting in? Well, let’s just say it’s ultra-competitive. In fact, recent figures show only 7% of all applicants are admitted.
“But he worked hard those three years of high school,” mom says. “Maintaining an ‘A’ average in all his rigorous coursework, being part of athletic teams at Kearny High School (varsity swim and captain of the men’s crew team), doing community service, playing bagpipes and even having us drive him to USNA seminars, and down to Annapolis several times.”
As competitive as the acceptance process is, so, too, is the application itself.
In fact, “the application itself took about two years to complete, and it entails not only essays and the usual applications, but he had to pass a Candidate Fitness Assessment and receive at least one nomination from a member of Congress,” mom says.
In November of his Junior year at his last candidate visit weekend in Annapolis, he was called up to the stage by the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, Vice Adm. Sean Buck, and was awarded a Letter of Assurance. Only about 3% of all applicants receive this letter, which states the Naval Academy wants to have him as a midshipman — but he must first be medically qualified by the Department of Defense and gather his nomination from a member of Congress.
In December of that year, Mikael not only received a nomination from U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-9, but he also received one from U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-Harrison. Once he was cleared by the Department of Defense, he received his appointment to the Naval Academy earlier this year, Jan. 12 to be precise.
“Mikael has been dedicated and always focused on helping and serving others,” Josie says. “That’s why I know he will make an excellent Midshipman and future Ensign. Both (dad) Mike and I are beaming with pride and are humbled and honored he chose this difficult path. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for him at the Naval Academy. Whatever it is, I know that he will be successful and will make anyone proud to have him serving our country in the United States Navy.
Mikael will study aerospace engineering come the fall and he hopes to become a Naval aviator.
He will have to serve eight years after designation, plus two years of flight school.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.