BLOOMFIELD, NJ--Adam Velin speaks of service.
He speaks of pushing himself harder in the classroom, and on the athletic field.
And he speaks of family, especially his mother and older siblings.
Most of all, Adam Velin looks to his future with an energy and passion that could easily define a man on a mission. And in this case, that mission will be wearing the uniform of the United States Navy.
You see, Velin, a senior at Bloomfield High, has been accepted to the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., and will begin his schooling there this coming June.
The youngest of four children born to Emma Valdivieso, Velin's accession to an appointment at one of the toughest schools in the nation to be accepted, was almost surreal. A year ago, Adam knew little about any of the military academies in the United States.
Until, a letter arrived in the mail, late in the 2018-2019 school year.
"I got a letter, in early June, inviting me to a summer Service Academy, at the Naval Academy," said the affable Velin, while chatting in the office of BHS athletic director Steve Jenkins. "I have no idea why I got the letter, but it looked interesting."
Velin paid the money to attend the five-day event, and was instantly hooked.
"It was an incredible experience," he recalled. "Being in Maryland, I was scheduled to visit a few more colleges, but when I left Annapolis, I basically said I had already made up my mind. The Naval Academy is where I wanted to go."
A standout athlete at Bloomfield High, Adam was a kicker for the Bengals football team, as well as a swimmer in the winter season. This spring, he'll return to the track team, where he throws the javelin.
In the classroom, Adam has excelled, with a 3.84 GPA.
While attending the summer program, Adam's performance was so good that he later received a Letter of Assurance from the Naval Academy, indicating the school's interest in Adam as a possible student, assuming he met all the requirements needed for acceptance.
"Normally, you need two nominations (from members of the United States Senate or House of Representatives)," said Velin. "But with the Letter of Assurance, I only needed one."
Adam went through the rigorous application process, beginning late last summer. He then focused on Bloomfield's football season, but then realized it was important to complete the process.
"Time was going by quickly," he recalled. "I realized I had to get everything completed."
Adam also re-took the SAT's, and excelled, especially in mathematics.
"I thought with the higher score, I would have a better chance (of being accepted)," he said. "I knew I had done well with the physical fitness work during the summer."
While his application was being looked upon favorably, Adam also knew he needed one congressional nomination to gain possible official acceptance, and it had to be completed by Jan. 31.
"I knew the deadline was coming quickly," he said. "I was getting nervous. So I spoke with Mr. Jenkins and explained how I needed the nomination, and to see if he could help me with the process."
Jenkins was just glad to help.
"I didn't really do anything, other than make a phone call," said Bloomfield's athletic director. "Adam is a great kid, who has worked hard. I didn't even know he was in the process of applying to the Naval Academy, until he spoke with me a few weeks ago. Adam did all the work, I just wanted to see if he could get the nomination, before the deadline."
Adam was able to get that Congressional appointment, and just in time.
"The people of Bloomfield really had my back," said Adam.
Following the congressional nomination, Adam still had to wait for official acceptance, and it came, on Valentine's Day, 2020.
"I was in school, and I got a chance to get on a computer and checked my portal, and there it was," he said with a smile, in recalling the official acceptance.
Adam plans to major in Quantitative Economics, because of his interest in business. He aspires to be a Special Warfare Officer for the Navy, after college graduation, and possibly complete Naval Seal training.
A strong math and science background will be needed to tackle the tremendous academic challenges of the Academy, and Adam feels his education at Bloomfield High has prepared him well.
"No question, I've gotten a tremendous education at Bloomfield High," he said proudly. "The teachers here are outstanding. And the coaches have taught me so much. Coach (Mike) Carter (Bloomfield High's head football coach) has been a father figure. My swim coach, (Lenore Imhof) has been such a positive influence, teaching me about sports, and life.
"I learned to push myself to work harder in school, because of the teachers and challenging classes here."
Carter, who has been such a huge role model to so many students at BHS, was very proud of Adam's accomplishments.
"Adam is a tremendous young man," said Carter. "He's worked hard for this. We're all very proud of him."
Adam also has a good friend who is a student at the Naval Academy. Grace Perrotta, a 2018 Bloomfield High graduate, is currently a sophomore at Annapolis.
"Grace was really happy for me," said Adam, who is a classmate with Grace's younger sister, Gina. "She loves the Naval Academy. We had a chance to talk last weekend, when she was home, on leave."
Four other Bloomfield graduates have also received appointments to military academies. Kier Elmonairy, a 2007 graduate, attended the United States Military Academy, in West Point while 2004 grads Jason Cammarata and James Villanueva attended the Naval Academy and West Point, respectively. Samuel Epitime, a 2019 grad, is currently a freshman at West Point.
Adam's experience as a kicker for the BHS football team has inspired him to consider walking onto the football team at Navy, whether it be on the collegiate squad, or the highly successful sprint football program.
Most importantly, Adam's family is very special to him.
"My mother was so proud, when I got accepted," he said with a huge smile. "My mother came here, from Ecuador, and she made a life for our family, with the hope of a better life for her children. She inspires me every day.
"Service means so much to me. This is a great country, which embodies hard work. And now I get the chance to serve. I'm so proud, and very thankful."
Adam admitted that if he hadn't gained acceptance to the Academy, he would have pursued a Naval career through the ROTC. He was accepted at Penn State, Villanova and the University of Maryland, all of which offer an ROTC naval program.
Adam's sister, Brenda Sanchez, is retired from the United States Army while his cousin, Anthony Martinez, is a United States Marine.
"They are both role models for me," he said.
Two of Adam's siblings, Veronica Tangarife and John Gavilanes are graduates of Bloomfield High School. The family has resided in Bloomfield for many years.
With his appointment to the Naval Academy completed, Adam is looking forward to the rest of his senior year. Two days after graduating Bloomfield High, he will report to the Academy for eight weeks of summer training, before the start of classes.
"In the meantime, I'll work hard in school and enjoy the rest of my senior year," he said. "I know it wasn't easy to be accepted at the Naval Academy and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead."