Ben Johnston, a senior at Snohomish High School, did not plan to join the military. However, after researching colleges in the middle of his junior year, Ben was drawn to the prospect of adventure. He is to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall. Ben credits his success to family, supportive teachers and the tight community of Snohomish High School.
Question: What drew you to the Naval Academy?
Answer: I didn’t really look into it until last year. I don’t come from a military family or anything. The more I started looking into it, the more I realized this was a really cool and unique experience. I had the opportunity to do something special to serve our country and also get a great education in the process, too.
Q: What do you hope to major in?
Answers: Some kind of engineering, I’m not so sure what kind yet.
Q: What are your plans post-college?
A: I want to be a naval aviator.
Q: Tell us more about your school activities.
A: I was the secretary of National Honors Society and I am in the German club, too. I also participated in football, track, wrestling and baseball.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I love to go skiing in the winter, we have a cabin at Stevens Pass. I like to go hiking, be outdoors, hang out with friends.
Q: Why do you think you have been successful in high school?
A: In Snohomish I’ve had a lot of great teachers, and overall the community here is very supportive and has encouraged me to do all that I have been able to do. My family has also been really great and helped me out along the way.
Q: As you leave Snohomish, what do you hope to leave behind?
A: I hope I was able to change the school for the better and made some good impressions on people.
Q: What do you hope to take with you?
A: Coming from Snohomish I’ve had a good sense of community, teamwork and what it means to serve other people. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away from Snohomish — it’s like a big family here.
Q: Who has influenced your high school career?
A: Mr. (Mark) Perry has had a huge impact on my high school career. He was my calculus teacher and he’s a great teacher. He was also the football coach. He challenged me in school and on the football field to be the best I could be.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in high school?
A: My biggest challenge was probably sophomore year in advanced-placement chemistry. I was really struggling through the whole year and I wasn’t doing so well. Then halfway through first semester, we had a new teacher come in. She believed in me and encouraged me a lot. I came in for study sessions on the weekends and I was able to pass the A.P. test at the end of the year.
Also in sports I’ve had a lot of setbacks. Every year in football I’ve gotten hurt. I haven’t gone a complete football season, which is kind of a bummer, but I feel like I’ve gotten better from it.
Q: What would surprise people to know about you that they might not already know about you?
A: I enjoy reading books.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Q: What are you nervous about next year?
A: Being away from home. I haven’t really been away from home for an extended period of time. I leave on July 1 and I can’t have a phone or anything for six weeks, I only get two phone calls for the entire time. That will be hard — not to be able to talk to my family for that long of period.
Q: You were accepted to both Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy – that’s extremely rare.
A: I don’t come from a military family, so my family wasn’t really leaning either way. It was a really tough choice because they are both such good schools. I went and visited the Naval Academy and felt that it was a really good fit for me.
Q: How many years do you have to serve after college?
A: It’s five years active duty and three years reserve. It will be an adventure. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to go to the Naval Academy. I’ve talked to so many military people and all of them have said, “I wouldn’t change anything.” That was a pretty big factor for me, I want to look back on my life with no regrets.