A former Pinecrest Academy student graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned as an officer in the Navy on May 27 in Annapolis, Maryland.
Ensign John Di Rito, who graduated from Pinecrest in 2010, is the first alumnus of the private parochial school to graduate from the Naval Academy. He completed four years of academic, physical and professional training to earn a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
“It was an incredible feeling to be on the field will all my friends and throw my cover up into the air at the end of graduation,” Di Rito said. “I know that the Naval Academy did a great job in preparing me to lead sailors in the Navy, and I am ready to get out to the fleet.”
Di Rito also completed a four-year total immersion program that focused on the educational needs of the Navy and Marine Corps. The program featured a professional military training environment that emphasized the development of leadership skills.
“The best part of the total immersion [are] the bonds that are made,” Di Rito said. “We all go through the exact same tough experiences at the Naval Academy, which brings us all closer together.”
Di Rito, whose father is a 1979 graduate of the Naval Academy, said he grew up wanting to attend the school.
However, his journey to the military academy was not an easy one.
After applying as a high school senior but not receiving a congressional nomination — one is necessary to attend all military academies except for the Coast Guard — Di Rito began his college education at Georgia Tech. He applied again during his freshman and sophomore years in college and was waitlisted after his third application.
In 2012, after speaking to the academy’s southeast recruiter about the possibility of acceptance from the waitlist, he said he was discouraged further about attending when the recruiter informed him that no one on the waitlist would receive acceptance and advised him to plan for another year at Georgia Tech.
“Four hours [after we met with the recruiter] … I heard John saying ‘Yes sir, thank you sir. This is good news sir, thank you sir,’” Di Rito’s mother said. “I asked John how good was the news? He said, ‘Mom, I’m in! I just got an appointment to the Academy!’ John hasn’t taken that smile off of his face from that moment on.”
Di Rito said he does not plan on stopping with his graduation – he will continue studying in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and then will proceed to a submarine.
He said he is dedicated to exemplifying strong leadership in the position for which he has trained and also to the commitment he has made to his military family.
“Being in the military is not an easy job or lifestyle,” Di Rito said. “When we are deployed, we leave our families and friends for months at a time and often have minimal communications, but we join a different family — the military. When I report to my first submarine, I will be put in charge of a specific part of the submarine and a group of sailors. As an officer, I am responsible for taking care of the boat, then my sailors, then myself. Being in the military is about serving a cause bigger than yourself.”