Ex Scientia Tridens: AHS graduate Riley Haugen to attend U.S. Naval Academy

Published 6:17 pm Friday, June 11, 2021

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They say that first impressions matter, and when one meets 17-year-old Riley Haugen, it’s clear that he carries himself with a sense of military bearing, even though he is not in the military.

Not yet, that is.

The recent Austin High School graduate was accepted into the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, earlier this year. He will officially be inducted on Tuesday, June 29, as a member of the Class of 2025.

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Haugen’s interest in attending the Naval Academy began when he was a sophomore.

“Back in tenth grade, I had an interview with a current midshipman, who is now a senior at the academy,” he recalled. “He really got me interested in applying for the camps they have out there.”

From there, Haugen attended three different camps -— STEM Camp, Summer Seminar, which was a virtual camp due to COVID, and Candidate Visit Weekend, which allowed him to live in the dorms and shadow a midshipman.

“When I applied for the camps, I knew it was the place for me, where I could do everything I wanted to do and help me reach my goals,” Haugen said.

The application process for the Naval Academy is not like most colleges. Haugen said that not only do academic and college entrance exam scores need to be high, but candidates must also be medically qualified. After a preliminary application, candidates are required to complete a fitness test, submit an essay with the Academy application and conduct an officer interview.

But the final step is to acquire a congressional recommendation, which may come from the candidate’s Congressional district representative or either one of the State’s U.S. senators. Haugen received his endorsement from Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN1).

It is an incredibly competitive process. The Naval Academy only selects 1,200 applicants per year; over 16,000 hopefuls applied for the Class of 2025, according to a press release from the U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs Office.

Haugen is the first in his family to join the Navy. He is looking to major in aerospace engineering with the goal of becoming a naval aviator and flying helicopters.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve loved aircrafts,” he said. “It’s fascinating for me to be able to fly one.”

If flying is not in the cards for him, Haugen has also expressed interest in serving in the submarine force.

“I was doing a practice interview for my congressional interview and one of my practice interviewers, who was in the Navy, gave me a big book about submarines,” he said. “I got to read through that and it was very eye-opening.”

With his June 29 induction, Haugen will begin Plebe Summer, an intense six to seven week long training session during which plebes (freshmen) learn what they need to become midshipmen. During that time, plebes have no access to television, movies, the internet or music and have restricted access to cell phones. They are only allowed three phone calls over the entire training period.

Haugen said he is looking forward to the experience.

“I’m a little nervous, but I’ve met a lot of people from all over, so I’ll be able to have some fun,” he said.