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Appointees ready to meet challenges of Naval Academy

June 11, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Plebes at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis are known for being yelled at and ridiculed in front of their peers.

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They must learn to adhere to strict schedules and tough discipline.

Hagerstown residents Michael Thomas and Deniz Baykan say they're ready.

Thomas, 19, and Baykan, 17, are the only two Washington County residents who have received appointments this year to military academies, according to U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett's office.

Thomas has spent the last two years in the Navy, enlisting after an earlier nomination from Bartlett, R-Md., failed to get him an appointment to the academy.

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After surviving boot camp and learning to operate a nuclear-powered ship or submarine, Thomas isn't too worried about plebe harassment.

"I know what's coming for me next month, but I really don't think it's anything I haven't already seen," he said.

Baykan has heard how tough the first year can be from other students who have gone to the academy.

The North Hagerstown High School senior participates in cross country, track and cheerleading, serves on the Student Government Association's executive board and is president of the school's National Honor Society chapter, vice president of the French Club, and a Key Club member.

After managing her time and energies to handle those activities while becoming co-valedictorian, Baykan knows she can handle the discipline in store for her at the Naval Academy.

She is already used to rising early, waking at 5:30 a.m. three times a week to go to the gym and get in shape for plebe summer.

"It's such an honor to be accepted there and I can't wait to go," said Baykan, who was nominated by Bartlett.

Baykan is looking forward to the travel opportunities the Navy will provide.

She is uncertain what she wants to study, but is leaning toward engineering and wants to go to law school after graduating from the Naval Academy and completing her five-year service obligation.

Thomas, a 1998 North High graduate, has wanted to attend the Naval Academy since high school because he wants to serve his country and get a good education at the same time.

After he didn't get appointed to the academy in 1998, Thomas enlisted when he found out the Navy's nuclear program was a good way to gain entrance to the academy.

It paid off.

Not only does Thomas already have a feel for Navy life, this time he got nominations for an academy appointment from Bartlett, U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., and the secretary of the Navy, he said.

If he wasn't heading to the academy on June 28, Thomas would be on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier or submarine now.

He spent the last two years in Charleston, S.C., and Boston Spa, N.Y., learning propulsion systems and is now a trained nuclear operator and a petty officer 3rd class.

"I like the discipline the Navy gives me. It keeps me working and learning something new. It gives me an opportunity to be a leader," he said.

Thomas is the son of Mark and Susan Thomas. Baykan is the daughter of Yalcin and Mary Baykan.

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