Woman who grew up wanting to enter Naval Academy will go WEST COUNTY--Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

May 13, 1993|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,Staff Writer

Spend a few moments in Robert and Linda Wisch's garage in West Friendship, and you'll get a sense of where their daughter Susan is coming from and where she's going.

Mr. Wisch has papered an entire wall with World War II posters and news clippings. "Back 'Em Up, Buy Extra Bonds!" reads a poster with an image of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. A headline from the April 15, 1943, issue of the Baltimore News-Post screams, "Jap Fleet 3 Days from New Guinea."

Next to the wall sits Miss Wisch's Chrysler LeBaron with a new vanity license plate: "NAVY 97."

"We're basically a pretty patriotic family," says Miss Wisch, 18.

That is one reason the Glenelg High School senior has decided to spend her next four years at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Miss Wisch is one of 33 Marylanders to receive an appointment to the Class of 1997. The academy accepted her in February. She will join her approximately 1,200 classmates in early July.

Her decision was not a simple one. But after visiting at least six other colleges, including Duke University and the University of Virginia, she is pleased with her choice.

"It's not the easiest place to go," Miss Wisch said, "but you get so much out of it."

Her father, a military buff who served in the Army between the Korean and Vietnam wars, is equally happy.

"I was very proud that Sue wanted to go," said Mr. Wisch, a vice president with Ridgeway Electric Co. Inc. in Ellicott City. "I think we were suggesting it, and then when she made up her mind, we wanted to be sure it was her decision."

Miss Wisch's route to Annapolis has not been a direct one. She has spent the past dozen years growing up on an 8-acre farm in TC western Howard County. At various times, she has shared it with cows, goats, ducks, geese, fish, rabbits, a turtle and a pony.

"I tried to make a farmer out of her, but it didn't work," said her mother, who works as a secretary at the Bushy Park Elementary School in Glenwood.

Over the years, Miss Wisch has developed various interests, which could have led her to any number of colleges. In high school, she joined the concert and marching bands, where she plays the French horn and the mellophone.

She ran on the cross-country team last fall and competes in track during the spring, running distances of 100 and 800 meters.

"I'm not, like, a very great runner," she says. "I do OK for me. I just have never been a superstar."

A shade under 5 feet 9 inches, she also shot-puts -- about 20 feet -- and hurls the discus -- 58 to 60 feet usually.

One of her greatest loves is musical theater. She spent last July studying it at the Boston Conservatory. As a graduation present, she will head to Broadway to see the musicals, "Miss Saigon" and "Les Miserables." She has seen the latter at least five times.

"It's great," she says. "I cry every time."

So, with this background, what drew her to Annapolis?

Of the many schools she visited, she says she felt most at home there.

"I'm a very structured person," she says.

She was also intrigued by the opportunities. She is interested in languages and perhaps majoring in political science. The ideas of a career in intelligence or serving as a pilot excite her.

But perhaps her upbringing has played as much of a role as anything in her decision. Her grandfather was in the Navy. Growing up, she and her parents -- Miss Wisch is an only child -- visited Annapolis often.

"As a little kid, I thought it would be so nice to go to the Naval Academy," she said.

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