United States Rep. John Ratcliffe (R - Texas) held a reception in Farmersville on Saturday for eight North Texas high school seniors who have accepted Congressional appointments to attend a U.S. service academy this fall, including Rockwall ISD students Forrest Harbin and Bijan Nichols.

Harbin, a graduating senior at Rockwall High School, heads to Colorado Springs next month to attend the United States Air Force Academy. Harbin will be the third attendee of the USAFA in his immediate family, behind his sister Haylie Harbin, class of 2018, and brother Braxton Harbin, class of 2021.

“The reason I applied to service academies was because, from a young age, I always wanted to follow my family’s history of military service,” Harbin told the Herald-Banner. “I also wanted a different college experience, where I could set myself up for success while also building on my calendar.”

Harbin also said that the prospect of truly unique experiences and opportunities at the academy make him excited for the future.

“I am looking forward to taking advantage of the unique opportunities that service academies offer,” Harbin said. “I am also excited because I will once again attend the same school as my older brother!”

Harbin added that he fully expects the academy experience to be an unprecedented (but unsurprising) challenge.

“I expect Basic Cadet Training (during the summer) to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I also anticipate the rigorous academics to be a bit of a challenge,” he said. “I am most anxious about not knowing fully what to expect from my experience at the academy.”

Likewise, Nichols said that he expects the United States Naval Academy’s summer training, known as “Plebe Summer,” and “Plebe Year” following it, to be significant challenges.

“I know that Plebe Year will not be easy and that there are many unknowns,” Nichols said, “but I also know that the friendships I make and the bonds I form with others will help me to be successful and make it through.”

Nichols, a graduating senior at Rockwall-Heath High School, will be playing on the USNA football squad this fall.

“I am excited to attend the United States Naval Academy because I know that I will face many challenges that push me to grow and mature,” Nichols said. “I am also very excited to have the opportunity to play football at the Academy.”

Of his reasons for applying, Nichols said that he believes service academies “offer the best environments to develop young men and women academically, physically and morally,” and that he looks forward to serving as an active-duty service member following graduation.

At the Saturday reception, held at The Stable in downtown Farmersville, Ratcliffe said the band of service academy appointees represent the “best and brightest, most extraordinary and remarkable young men and women.”

“Regardless of where you go, the fact that you received nominations and appointments to one of our nation’s military academies is something that you should always appreciate and always build upon,” Ratcliffe told the students. “You will have the opportunity to see and do things that none of your peers, none of your classmates will have.”

Ratcliffe also punctuated that attendance at a service academy entails a commitment to serve.

“Serving in your country’s military is one of the most important things you’ll have the opportunity to do in your life,” the Congressman said. “I thank you, and on behalf of the 750,00 folks in Northeast Texas, who I represent, I thank you for your commitment to serve our nation.”

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