Why the Military?

Marine Academy student Zach Barnes returns to Conifer to explain the benefits that come from joining the Military.


Leslie Thompson

Midshipman and freshman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy Zach Barnes talks with a class about his experience at USMMA.

     For many students, the military is a desirable career path.  Low costs, serving the country, and future opportunities are all reasons why someone might consider joining an academy.  United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) freshman Zach Barnes took the marine path and is currently in engineering.

     “They teach us to work on the engines of boats and how to drive them,” Midshipman Zach Barnes said.

     USMMA offers two different opportunities for their students.  Both of these paths are specifically driven towards a future career on the water.  However, the school also places a strong focus on academics.

     “You can take two paths: transportation, which teaches you to drive and be responsible for the people on the boat, or engineering, which teaches you how to run the engines,” Barnes said.

     Students at USMMA go to the school for almost nothing while gaining experience and high-level teaching.  The school pays for their student’s education, and each student spends time on active duty in the Military.

     “I’m paying basically nothing to go to an amazing school,” Barnes said.

     This particular academy has some of the best programs in the country, ranging from a Student Band to the only Federal Service Academy to have an actual battle standard.  These programs give students more experience.

     “I have so many more opportunities for after I graduate than what other service academies offer,” Barnes said.

     Expectations are high to get into USMMA.  Similar to other service academies, the Merchant Marine Academy requires a lot of its students.  Along with academic tests, physical tests, and grades, applying students also need to have a clean and educated character.

     “You have to have a high GPA, do various sports, and have other activities that contribute to a well-rounded character.  I got here through all the hard work I put in during high school, but also learning time management and having fun,” Barnes said.