RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A small group of South Dakota students received incredible news earlier this week.
U.S. Senator Mike Rounds nominated 25 students to the nation's service academies for the 2019 to 2020 school year.
We share the story of a diligent teen who earned this honor.
Stevens High School Senior Marita Schmitz has her sights on the U.S. Naval Academy, but in order to get there, she needed an official nomination from a national legislator.
After a competitive application and interview process, Senator Mike Rounds nominated Marita and 24 other South Dakota students to the nation's service academies.
Marita Schmitz says, "I was actually sitting in my room on the phone with one of my friends and I saw that I had another call coming in. It was from Pierre, South Dakota. It was an unknown number, but I'd figured I might as well. The person answered and said it was Senator Rounds so that was really exciting."
Marita's kept herself very busy throughout high school, winning awards in cross country and mathematics.
As long as she passes the medical requirements, Marita will be able to attend the U.S. Naval Academy on a full-ride scholarship.
Marita Schmitz says, "It feels amazing. I've been wanting to go into the military since I was a little kid, and having this opportunity to attend such a prestigious academy would just be the best thing. It would be the opportunity of a lifetime."
Staff Sergeant Tyler Truesdale met Marita last year.
He thinks she'll be a great leader because she's willing to step out of her comfort zone.
Tyler Truesdale says, "Marita is a very unique individual. Obviously she's a go-getter. She is very good at applying herself and then she seeks knowledge in understanding how to improve herself, which is something that I think as a marine we always strive to accomplish."
After graduating from the Naval Academy, Marita hopes to commission as an officer in the Marine Corps.