From http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish One of America's leading centers of higher learning is the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The Naval Academy creates naval officers from its more than 4,000 students. Commander Chris Thomassy is the Academy's director of sailing. He says the centuries-old skill of sailing is valuable in the modern world. CHRIS THOMASSY: "We're a part of the Professional Development Department. And sailing is a big part of that because there you're going to learn character and leadership attitudes." These students are some of America's best. But even after a four-year study program, there is more to be learned. Laura Martindale is one of the first women ever chosen to serve on a submarine. LAURA MARTINDALE: "This place teaches you how to follow and lead. And when you're going out into the Navy, you're going to be in charge of 40 sailors and marines, it's a really important piece of your identity is knowing who you are and where you want to go. And, this place really changes you." Midshipman Jaclyn Jordan is preparing for a career in flying. JACLYN JORDAN: "Yes, sir. I'm going to be a Naval flight officer, going to Pensacola for flight school." Being a member of the United States Navy also means being ready for war. Teacher Bill Karditzas shows how to use a gun. BILL KARDITZAS: "In order to carry a pistol in the Navy, a person will have to go through a qualification process." Students at the Academy must be in top physical condition. At nearly any time of day, people exercise, train for a sport or just play with their classmates. Perhaps the most important quality students learn is leadership through honor. These students seem to understand this. LAURA MARTINDALE: "Honor, courage and commitment isn't something we just put on a poster and think about later. It is something we are expected to live and participate in actively every day." Midshipman Matthew Evans agrees. MATTHEW EVANS: "Knowing that we are going to be in charge of people's lives. Some of my classmates are going to Iraq within a year after getting out of here. And they are going to be in harm's way leading platoons. I have a lot of respect for that. I don't know how many other 22-year-olds are going to be doing that." JACLYN JORDAN: "I just try every day to do my best and make my classmates proud, my parents proud and, most importantly, the nation proud because in the end we are just, you know, we're working for America." Experiences differ from one person to the next. But those completing study programs agree the Academy prepares them for all the life and death decisions that naval officers are required to make. I'm Doug Johnson.
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