After an admissions process spanning more than nine months, St. Johnian Hugo Roller Jr., the son of Josephine and Hugo Roller Sr., was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland, last month.
Gaining acceptance to the esteemed American institution is an honor not lost on Roller, a senior at Antilles School who started his quest to get to Annapolis last year.
“The process started in June last year when I went to the summer seminar which took a week,” said Roller. “It was basically an introduction to what academy life would be like as far as both the physical and classroom aspects.”
Waking at 5 a.m. daily for a few miles of running in the hot Maryland summer sun had the desired effect on the young St. John native — he couldn’t wait to go back.
“When I did the summer seminar I really liked the routine that we had,” Roller said. “It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life and after that I decided I wanted to go there.”
Roller set to work on the admissions process immediately upon his return from the June seminar, filling out preliminary applications and furnishing school transcripts during the close of summer.
“In the early months of senior year I had to get an English teacher’s recommendation and a math teacher’s recommendation,” he said. “I was also required to do an extensive medical screening for the Department of Defense Medical Exam Review Board.”
Delegate to Congress Nomination
After passing the stringent medical exam, Roller set about securing a required congressional nomination for appointment, which Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen provided.
“Donna Christensen came through for me for that,” said Roller. “She’s a very nice lady.”
Christensen was honored herself to be able to help Roller.
“It was an easy decision to me,” said Christensen. “He had a lot of folks come up to me on St. John who were very supportive of his nomination. We are very pleased that he was accepted.”
While Christensen’s nomination for appointment was a critical step in Roller’s acceptance to the USNA, it was the teen’s hard work and dedication that got him so far.
“The kids do all the work,” Christensen said. “They get in on their own merit. They have to have the grades and the good morals and good character.”
“I’m just pleased that I am able to play a small role in the acceptance,” continued Christensen. “I’m really proud of Hugo and want to congratulate his parents and teachers.”
Blue and Gold Officer Interview
With his nomination secured, Roller was ready for one of the most daunting steps in the USNA acceptance process, a telephone interview with a Blue and Gold Officer, a trained Naval Academy Information Officer.
“There were a lot of forms and then I had to do an interview with a Blue and Gold Officer, who helps applicants through the admissions process,” Roller said. “It was on the phone and I was really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect.”
With his parents sitting in the next room, Roller didn’t let his nerves show during the personal interview.
Soul, Liberty and Life
“He asked some personal questions and about what I thought about risking my life in service to my country,” said the Antilles School senior. “He asked me to rank soul, life and liberty. Cicero once said something along the lines of, ‘what good is a man who gains the world but loses his soul?’”
“I ranked my soul first and then came liberty and life last because you can’t have life without liberty or your soul,” Roller continued. “I think I might have impressed him.”
Roller was nearing the end of the long road to Annapolis, but first he had to tackle another difficult task — one most high school seniors can relate to — an essay.
“The essay was really hard because I had to put my whole heart into it,” he said.
Finally Roller got the news from the Antilles School head master that all his hard work had paid off and he would become a midshipman.
“It’s a great honor,” said Roller. “When I heard the news I was really overwhelmed. It’s a great sense of accomplishment.”
“The Naval Academy is one of the hardest schools to get into,” the Antilles senior added. “Sometimes the acceptance rate is less than 10 percent. It’s basically like an Ivy League school with lots of physical fitness.”
Sailing with Midshipmen
Attending USNA, the St. John student and avid sailor will get the chance to join one of the best sailing programs in the country.
“I’ll be doing a lot of sailing,” Roller said. “They have one of the largest sailing facilities of any college in the U.S. They have a lot of good boats and a really good coach too.”
“I think my sailing ability was one of the main factors for my getting into the academy,” he continued. “Being a sailor makes you a special person.”
Before he starts classes and sailing in the fall, however, Roller will head up to Maryland on July 2 for an intense summer of physical training.
“All freshmen have to do this plebe summer which is a two-month course where they basically just work your butt off,” said Roller. “It’s all physical. They want to make sure whoever is coming up to the academy is well prepared for the physical challenges.”
Roller will also get the required buzz cut and learn how to make his bed so a quarter can bounce off the sheets. But first he’ll enjoy one month of summer vacation between graduation and the USNA.
“I’m excited to spend time with my family and friends, but I’ll have to stay in shape too,” Roller said. “I will be training a lot and running a lot.”
The future Naval Academy cadet is already planning his course load after completing his first two years of fulfilling required classes.
Dreams of Flights
“Right now I’m really interested in history and political science,” he said. “I also kind of have an idea of what I want to do after school. I want to fly jets so I’ll have to take a lot of physics classes.”
After graduation, Roller will be a US Naval Officer and will serve his country for at least five years. Seeking — and securing — admission to the USNA is no small task and Roller looks toward his future with clarity.
“I’m looking forward to the academy in general and I think it will be a really great experience,” he said. “It will be really intense. I’ll definitely have to stay sharp and be on top of my game.”