GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Connor Diamond is just a sophomore in high school, but he already knows what he wants to do once he graduates.
“I’d definitely like to attend the Air Force Academy, or really any academy, because I think it’s just a great opportunity, and it’ll set me up for success later on in life," he said.
Saturday, he attended Academy Day at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College hoping to learn more about how to prepare for that next step.
Representatives from all five U.S. service academies and regional ROTCs were there to talk with students about career opportunities.
“Even though I’m a sophomore, this information will definitely stick with me for a while," Diamond said.
More than 150 students and their parents attended Academy Day, an event hosted by Congressman Steven Palazzo.
It gave students a chance to hear from those like Col. Heather Blackwell, commander for the 81st Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base. As a 1997 Air Force Academy graduate, she knows well the benefits of going to a service academy.
“Gives them the opportunity to be pushed further than they thought they could go, to become better leaders, better people, better friends," Blackwell said.
She shared a recent letter she received from Congressman Joel Hefley who nominated her to attend Air Force Academy. She said for students to see and get that same support from Palazzo is what makes events like this so important.
“The support that he gives to anybody going to any service academy, we will never forget the support from our congressmen to be able to have that opportunity in life," Blackwell said.
Palazzo said to see so many interested in serving our country is inspiring.
“They’re still in high school and they want to serve our country in various capacities, but the fact that they still want to serve just makes us stronger as a nation and makes us stronger as a region as well,” he said.
This was the ninth year for the event.