Senator delivers big surprise to Smyrna student: Army sponsorship

 

Sen. Chris Coons fixes his signature to a letter affirming his sponsorship of Smyrna High School student Meghan Yerkes to attend the U.S. Military Academy. (Submitted photo/Office of Sen. Chris Coons)

DOVER — For 16-year-old Meghan Yerkes, Christmas started a little early this year.

Meghan, a senior at Smyrna High School, was surprised by Sen. Chris Coons Thursday, who informed her that she is his principal nominee for the U.S. Military Academy.

Every year, the members of Delaware’s congressional delegation nominate a handful of individuals for each service academy. Being selected is rigorous process that involves submitting a formal application and being interviewed by an independent board, which then makes the selection.

This year, for the first time, Sen. Coons decided to notify his main nominees in person.

Arriving at Smyrna High School at 9:30 a.m., he was ushered into a room by the front office, where he would meet Meghan and her parents. The Yerkeses were not told the exact nature of why they were summoned, only that Meghan had won an award.

Once she left her gym class, Meghan was escorted to see Sen. Coons, who greeted her with a handshake and a “What do you think I’m here for?”

“I got the nomination?” Meghan replied.

As Sen. Coons informed her she would be his prime selection to attend West Point next year, she struggled to hold back tears of joy.

“As long as you just kind of keep going for the rest of the year, you’re in,” Sen. Coons said.

Meghan, whose father was in the Army, was born on Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. She plays lacrosse at Smyrna, is president of the Smyrna FFA Chapter and is a member of the National Honor Society.

“Just to be able to be a part of something that’s so much bigger than myself and to be able to improve on myself physically and my leadership skills, it’s just something that’s so awesome, I think, and so exciting,” she said.

Not only did her father serve in the Army, but her brother entered the Navy recently, and she has grandparents who were in the military. Meghan hopes to become a physician and has dreams of serving in the U.S. Medical Corps.

Applying for sponsorship was challenging, Meghan said, but “definitely worth it.”

Two other students received similar good news Thursday, with Sen. Coons surprising Jacob Hudson at Delaware Military Academy and David Collord at Cape Henlopen High School.

Mr. Hudson is sponsored for the U.S. Naval Academy and Mr. Collord is the principal nominee for the Air Force Academy.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.