AP NEWS

Greenwich girls setting sail for U.S. Naval Academy

March 15, 2019

GREENWICH — For seniors Athena Corroon and Eleanor Dabney, college preparation will not mean shopping for mini-fridges and stocking up on ramen in August. Come June, they will chop off their hair, swap their phones for stationery and learn how to drill push-ups as well as equations.

About a dozen students in Greenwich have applied to service academies, and Corroon, from Sacred Heart Greenwich, and Dabney, from Greenwich High, are the first two students to be admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy.

As athletes who play lacrosse and row, respectively, the two young women have the upper hand because their recruitment processes started long before the application process.

Corroon’s grandfather and great-grandfather were in the air force, while almost every man in Dabney’s family has been in the Marine Corps. Both young women will continue family legacies of military service, but they will also be trail-blazers, as the first young women to serve.

“Everyone is placed on this earth for a reason, and mine is to serve,” Corroon said.

The Naval Academy will have a more demanding lifestyle than a typical university.

Dabney said the key to success at the Naval Academy is to make sure she can handle the “little things,” such as doing 50 push-ups a day. If that is a challenge, doing well in class and learning how to function when she is tired and stressed will be even harder, she said.

But the academy attracts hard-working people from all walks of life, Dabney said.

“It is really diverse,” she said. “You’re turning down a normal college experience, so it attracts different crowds of people.”

A longtime crew team member in a town that places a high premium on individual success, Dabney said she likes the teamwork she saw on display when she stayed at the academy for a week. She and Corroon went to Annapolis, Md., last summer for the Summer Seminar, when they got a taste of life on campus.

“They’re getting ahead for the team, not for themselves,” she said.

Coroon is leaning toward studying computer science and cyber security as a major, but Dabney is undecided between chemistry — which has a reputation as one of the hardest majors at the academy — and English.

Both are committing not just to four years of schooling, but five years serving in the Navy afterward. For Corroon, that means knowing what she will do after college, which is often stressful and uncertain for others.

“I think it is so nice to have a job after college,” Corroon said.

The nine-year commitment is a long one, but Dabney said visiting the school has meant she will have familiar faces to look for once she gets there.

“Even if there are days when it’s tough, I’ll get an amazing education and opportunity I wouldn’t get anywhere else,” she said.

jo.kroeker@hearstmediact.com