Concordia Lutheran High School

Skip to main content
OnCampus Login

Pursuing servant leadership at the highest levels

Three grads appointed to military academies

By Ashley Wiehe for the Fall 2016 Cadets Magazine

A desire to serve their country.

That resonated with these 2016 graduates. They had a passion to be servant leaders, and today, they are studying at three of the most prestigious military academies in the nation. 

Cierra Germann, Jasmine Jackson and Jacob Panning all applied and were accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, respectively. Each received a full scholarship. 

“I have always had a desire to serve my country, and the U.S. Military Academy adds a unique emphasis on leadership that will challenge me to become a better servant leader,” Jackson said. 

They dedicated themselves in high school, and now, they are on their own unique career paths. 

“You get the best education there is in the country — of any school in the country,” said SFC (R) Alan Conrad, who co-leads the JROTC program at Concordia Lutheran High School. “You get someone who is disciplined and capable. … They are learning to accomplish what other kids don’t know how to do.” 

But the process wasn’t easy. Very few in the country are admitted to the five military academies: West Point, Annapolis, Coast Guard Academy, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

Along with receiving a nomination (including congressional), students must exhibit strong test scores, pass physical and medical tests, and demonstrate leadership and service work. Essays are written, and students go through an interview process. 

Both Jackson, who was the battalion commander during her senior year, and Panning, who was the chaplain, were members of JROTC at Concordia, and that experience was invaluable to their application process. 

“(With JROTC), they have two mentors that are willing to bend over backwards for them,” Conrad said of himself and MAJ (R) John Sheaffer, who also leads in the JROTC program. “You get a good basic foundation to step up to the plate.” 

All three applied in the fall, and by spring were being honored in front of their peers with their appointments. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a leader,” Panning said. “It just felt like everything fell into place at that point.” 

They left for school earlier this summer to face orientation and an extreme version of basic training. 

Each student learned military etiquette, shooting, marching and how to salute. For six or seven weeks, their personal lives were stripped away. They learned to be a part of a team — the military that will be their lives for the next eight or more years.  

And then this fall, the classes began.

It will be years of hard work from classes to their time on active duty. 

Germann and Jackson both have dreams of a military career. Germann is studying engineering with plans to become a naval aviator some day, and Jackson is studying international relations with plans to join the Military Intelligence Corps. Panning is pursuing his dream of working in naval architecture and has already done an internship with MasterCraft. 

“Upon discovering the Naval Academy, and with the goal of being an officer in the Navy one day, I knew the Naval Academy was where I wanted to be to prepare me the best for my service,” Germann said. 

With a lot of hard work ahead of them, they credit the foundation that Concordia had laid out for them for helping them toward their goals. 

“Concordia taught me confidence and how to be grounded in my faith and myself. All these things were crucial for showing interview boards and the Naval Academy itself that I am a well-rounded individual who can handle the stresses of the Naval Academy and the Navy afterward,” Germann said. “Concordia also allowed me to be involved in a lot of different activities which has taught me time management. This is something I will definitely use later.”