A suburban Chicago student achieved a rare feat when he was accepted for admission into three different United States military academies, and now he’s hoping he can use his story to inspire others to serve their country.
Ryan Kenneally of Elmhurst applied to the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and while he hoped to get accepted to at least one of the schools, he was accepted by all three.
“I was in no way expecting all three,” he said.
The application process for all three schools is notoriously tough. Acceptance is contingent on a wide variety of factors, including grades, volunteerism, extracurricular activities, and a nomination from a member of Congress.
Kenneally has been service-minded throughout his life, taking after the example of numerous members of his family. His grandfather fought in the Korean War, and his brother Jimmy is currently a junior at the Naval Academy.
Kenneally’s service to his community includes serving as a vice president at the Young Hearts for Life, an organization that helps provide free EKGs for those in need. The senior at IC Catholic Prep also served as the president of the National Honor Society and the vice president of the school’s student council, and lettered in three sports at the school.
Ryan credits his brother Jimmy with helping guide his steps through high school, which ultimately led to his acceptance to the military academies.
“My brother was already involved in everything,” he said. “He knew what it took and he said ‘okay, we’re going to do math team (and other activities).’”
Ryan’s parents say that their three sons learned from example early in their lives about doing the right thing.
“We didn’t do anything different than anybody else would do,” Ryan’s mother Maureen Kenneally said. “It was just giving them confidence to believe in themselves.”
Ryan Kenneally will join his brother at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and he’s also encouraging his younger brother to follow in their footsteps.
“Being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself, which is something we don’t really get a lot of here, is something that really needs to be cherished,” he said.