A Churchill County High School student was faced with a tough decision when deciding which military college to attend.
Senior Zack Keener said choosing the college was not an easy decision.
“I really studied my options and tried to figure out which college was best for me,” Keener said. “After much consideration I decided it would be best for me to attend The Citadel.”
Keener was nominated by Sen. Dean Heller to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and also received a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship and applied to The Citadel in Charleston, S.C.
“I was excited when I found out I was nominated for the academy and was awarded the ROTC scholarship,” Keener said. “I knew these two schools were the ones I wanted to attend and the fact I got my foot in the door at both of them made me happy.”
Capt. Robert Kermen, head of the CCHS JROTC program, said Keener is more than equipped to attend The Citadel.
“Zack is a very driven kid,” Kermen said. “He’s academically there and has such a drive and passion to succeed no matter what he’s doing. I think The Citadel is a great choice for him because it will make him a more rounded student and individual being exposed to the different branches of the military like they are at that college. I think he’s going to do great there.”
Keener said the preparation and physical fitness test he completed for each school was rigorous. He said that each college had a different test that challenged him mentally and physically.
“Over the summer I attended the Devil Pups, which is a Marine Corps inspired boot camp,” Keener said. “The boot camp really helped me become stronger, focused and prepared me for the colleges physical fitness test.”
Keener said each college required a full medical screening; drug testing and a physical fitness test. He said for the Citadel he had to run 3 miles and perform max pull-ups and push-ups.
“You need to get at lease a 250 on the scores,” Keener said. “A good time for the 3-mile run was 22 minutes but I ran it in 20 minutes.”
Keener said the requirements for the academy were more complex than The Citadel.
“One of the strange requirements the academy had was a basketball throw from your knees,” Keener said. “So I set up in the gym and practiced throwing the basketball on my knees across the gym … yeah it was an entertaining sight.”
Keener said for the ROTC scholarship he had to complete a series of interviews with officers to determine his fate.
“At first it started off by me getting interviewed by two officers,” Keener said. “But then it turned into me also being interviewed by my recruiters here and then a Top Echelon employee interviewed me as well. I interviewed with six people when it should have only been two.”
Keener said he had the opportunity to visit both colleges in February.
“At the naval academy, I was lucky enough to stay on the campus with my grandparents and got a tour,” Keener said. “At The Citadel, I was asked to be a part of their “pre-knob” visit ... knob is the term used for freshman, and I stayed with a knob for two days and got to see what their daily routine was like. I was able to sit in on classes and get an understanding of what life would be like at The Citadel.”
Keener said he feels like The Citadel will be a great fit for him.
“I like the challenges the college will offer and I’m ready to face them. I know I want to be in the Marines, in aviation or a combat engineer. I want to be in the military for as long as I can.”