Swalwell Hosts Reception for Military Academy Attendees

June 21, 2021
Press Release

CASTRO VALLEY, CA – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) yesterday hosted a reception in Dublin for 10 students from the 15th Congressional District whom his office nominated to America’s military service academies.

Swalwell joined the students and their families at Dublin City Hall to acknowledge their achievements and thank them for their choices to serve our nation.

“The West Point Cadet Prayer asks in part, ‘Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won,’” Swalwell said. “By choosing to attend America’s military academies, our young neighbors have chosen to elevate their lives in the service of our nation, to do the right thing, to pursue truth. That, to me, is the definition of patriotism.”

“Playing a small role in advancing these young leaders is among the greatest joys of my job,” Swalwell added. “I’m honored and humbled to be their voice in Congress, and I’m so glad that our community is producing such fine, talented, motivated people.”

The honor of attending a service academy comes with an obligation and commitment to serve in the military for a minimum of five years upon graduation.

Members of Congress each year can make nominations to the military service academies. Applications received by Swalwell’s office are reviewed by an independent panel of military veterans, which recommends which students to nominate. For more information on the nomination process, click here.  

U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY

Charles Lee, Dougherty Valley High School, San Ramon – Charles has been active with the American Legion Boys State, his church youth group, and Dougherty Valley’s Interact Club and leadership program. He also worked as an assistant at San Francisco State University’s Domingo Biology Lab in 2017 and 2018. He holds three California state records in archery; he was ranked first in the state in 2015 and 2017, tried out for the Junior Olympics in 2018, and was ranked second at the Outdoor National Championship in 2019. And he was recognized as a USA Water Polo Academic All-American in 2020.

Claire Tsay, Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton – Claire was recognized as an AP Scholar in 2019 and a National AP Scholar with Distinction in 2020, while also being recognized as a National Merit Scholarship Commended Student in 2020. She has earned a brown belt in Kung Fu, an art she has practiced for seven years. She also was in Amador Valley’s marching band for four years, was active with the Student Inter-School Action Council for two years, and studied at the Zhang Xiao Chang Art Studio for six years.

Jacob Marnon, Valley Christian High School, Dublin – Jacob was an honor roll student from 2018 through 2020, and took part in junior varsity football, varsity soccer, and weight training at Valley Christian. He also has participated in the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Explorer program, with which he has logged more than 200 volunteer hours bettering his community by assisting local police officers and volunteering for community events. He has worked summer construction and landscaping jobs as well.

Andrew Wang, Dublin High School, Dublin – Andrew was an AP scholar in 2019 and 2020, and a leader on Dublin High’s swim team who was a California Interscholastic Federation NCS Scholar from 2017 through 2020, swam at the USA Swimming Junior Nationals in 2019, and was a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American in 2020. He has been a co-president of PLAY (Promoting Leadership and Aspiring Youth), mentoring young people in engineering and sports. He also was active with Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs and the Toastmasters International Youth Leadership Program in 2019, and earned President’s Volunteer Service Gold Awards from 2018 through 2020.

Valentin Shatilenko, California Connections Academy, Hayward – Valentin was on his school’s high honor roll from 2017 through 2020, earned a certificate of excellence in mathematics in 2018, and was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist in 2020. He was a Jakarta Tennis Academy Anniversary Tournament finalist in 2016 and a Castro Valley Junior Tennis Exemplary Coach in 2019, and also has earned several alpine skiing awards. He was a National Honor Society member, edited his school’s publication for two years, and was involved in his school’s drama, speech and debate clubs as well as the San Ramon Youth Symphony, East Bay Youth Orchestra, U.S. Chess Foundation, and Mu Alpha Theta, a national high school math honor society.

Lily Holtmeier, California High School, San Ramon – Lily has been a member of California High’s water polo and swim teams for four years, and also has taken part in equestrian sports for eight. In water polo, she was junior varsity MVP in 2017, varsity Offensive Player of the Year and an EBAL All-League Honorable Mention in 2018, and team leader in goals, field blocks, and assists in 2019. She has served as president of her school’s Spanish Club, played in the Jazz Band and Jazz Ensemble, and participated in the National Honor Society. She has worked as a nanny, a horse groom, and a camp counselor.

Oumar Diop, Washington High School, Fremont - Oumar was a Scholar-Athlete from 2017 through 2019, playing football and running track and field for Washington High. He also has been active with the school’s Computer Science Club and Robotics Club, as well as the  “Hack High School” coding program and the Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence (EMBODI) program, focusing on STEM Education, culture, self-efficacy, and leadership. He also has taken part in summer programs with Amazon Lab126, a research and development team that designs and engineers high-profile consumer electronic devices, and is a two-time gold winner in the NAACP’s  Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO).

U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD

Brandon Norton, Livermore High School, Livermore – Brandon received Livermore High’s Block L Award in 2018, was on the honor roll from 2018 through 2020, received Academic Star Awards in 2019 and 2020, received the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence in 2020, and served as vice president of his senior class. He took part in track and field, football, basketball, and water polo at Livermore High, and was named a 2020 Scholar/Athlete. He has volunteered with Open Heart Kitchen, served as a Parent-Teacher-Student Association auditor, and took part in the Naval Academy Summer Seminar.

U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, CO

Karell Washington, U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School and Castro Valley High School – Karell received Academic Achievement Awards in 2019 and 2020, and also took part in cross country running and her school’s band and chorus. She earned an African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) achievement award in 2019; she has volunteered with the American Red Cross; and she took part in the University of California, Berkeley’s SMASH program in science, technology, engineering, and math, receiving a certificate of achievement in 2019.

Yujin Shim, Foothill High School, Pleasanton – Yujin was a National Merit Scholarship Commended Student in 2020, and has won honors in Science Olympiad events in 2019 and 2020. She has run track and field for three years and cross country for two, and was a California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section Scholar Athlete in 2019. She also has taken part in competitive dance, winning various awards and earning acceptance into the ConDanza company professional division. She was an officer of Foothill High’s National Honor Society and vice president of the Mural Club, as well as a New Vision Church High School Ministry CORE Leader and a New Life Korean School Teacher’s Assistant. She received a Pleasanton Unified School District Student Innovation Grant in 2019, and her older brother already attends the U.S. Air Force Academy.