SUMMIT, NJ - Although she carries the standard of a pioneer, one gets the feeling that Carey Fries is much more focused on her own path, knowing that, undoubtedly, there will be many others that will follow behind her.
Impressive well beyond her 21 years, Fries is the first Summit High School (SHS) female graduate ever to attend the United States Naval Academy. Currently occupying the rank of Midshipman Lieutenant, her graduation in May will promote her in rank to Ensign Fries, and then it is off to consecutive on-ship tours, the first of which will likely take her to Japan.
Fries returned home to Summit to speak to a group of Middle School students and parents at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS). She was joined at the presentation by Summit Common Council member Patrick Hurley, also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. She also spoke to a group of students and parents at the Summit Elks.
In addition to raising awareness of the Naval Academy as a post-High School choice, Fries educated students on the academic and personal accomplishments needed to be properly considered for acceptance.
Fries currently works at the Honor Board at the Academy, and also occupies a role running "Plebe Summer", a basic-training like indoctrination into the Academy, where incoming freshmen essentially see their mindset and habits as individuals chipped away, replaced by the ability to think and act like a member of a team.
Being a woman, Fries does not feel unique or challenged in the male-centric population at the Naval Academy. "It is a non-issue. We all wear the same uniform."
A Captain on the SHS swim team where she swam the 200 and 500 Freestyle, Fries no longer swims competitively at the Naval Academy due to two rotator cuff injuries. She believes the discipline needed to train and compete as swimmer, however, prepared her well for the regimen at the Academy. "I like structure, I try to manage my time in five-minute chunks. I view this as the opportunity of a lifetime."
Her parents were supportive of her decision to go to Annapolis. "The wanted it to be my decision, and since they gave me the responsibility to make that decision, I wanted to make a mature, adult decision."
Fries' advice to those -- female or male -- who are considering to follow in her footsteps is to prepare and do their research. "If interested, they need to visit the Naval Academy and take in the environment and understand the culture. The Academy looks for well-rounded individuals, who have high academic credentials, technical skills, are significantly involved in a club and-or a sport." She advocates students begin the process in their Freshman or Junior year, so they can pursue the coursework and activities that will make their application stand out.