The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Former Children’s Center students join academies

By Bethany Peterson/editor-in-chief

Kids run carefree in the NE Campus Children’s Center, but they have to grow up someday.

Former Children’s Center students Austin Bruce and Andrew Alexaitis did. Bruce is starting his first semester at West Point Military Academy while Alexaitis begins at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Alexaitis and Bruce have shared a close friendship since their preschool days at the Children’s Center.

“Me and Andy were best friends, and we’ve been to school together our entire lives,” Bruce said.

Andy Alexaitis
Andy Alexaitis

Alexaitis said he remembered knowing Bruce at the Children’s Center, but there was no hint in their childhood play that they would join military academies.

Their fellow Children’s Center attendee Kenny Buyers also was accepted into the Air Force prep school, but neither Bruce or Alexaitis said they were close to Buyers other than baseball teams and brief times in the same school.

Bruce and Alexaitis, however, remained friends and even vacationed together this summer before they left for their respective boot camps.

Getting accepted to a military academy is difficult.

“You have to apply for nomination and apply [for the academy],” Bruce said.

Nominations are made by one of the applicant’s member on Congress.

Prospective students submit an application to the senator or representative’s office and are interviewed by a military liaison.

Applicants must pass a rigorous physical test with pushups, pullups, basketball drills, running and other tests earning them points.

“Points go toward points for acceptance,” Bruce said.

Essays also earn applicants points. The more points applicants accumulate, the better their chance of being accepted. But the selection process is not always exact, Bruce said.

“They have to distribute [acceptance] evenly across states and territories,” Bruce said.

The process starts early in the applicant’s junior year with a deadline of December, so it was a long wait before Bruce found out if his hard work had paid off.

Austin Bruce
Austin Bruce

“It was a little tense, but it wasn’t in my hands,” he said.

Bruce also had an ROTC scholarship at the University of Oregon and a Marines scholarship at Texas A&M to fall back on in case he wasn’t accepted.

Alexaitis is following his father’s service in the Air Force.

“He flew planes and was in Vietnam,” he said. “I picked the more engineering [path]. Right now, I’m looking to make it a career.”

By the time he completes his training and the mandatory service requirements, it would be a little late to retire and have time for a second career, Alexaitis said.

Bruce, on the other hand, doesn’t know if he will make the military a career. He wants a degree in international relations and hopes for a job with the Department of Defense, but he can do that either in or out of the service.

Even though the friends chose different paths, Alexaitis is confident they will remain close.

“We have gone through strong phases and weak phases, but I don’t see this as being any different,” he said.

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