Two Mids win USA Today academic honor

February 21, 2007|By Nina Sears | Nina Sears,Special to the Sun

Naval Academy seniors have taken two of the 20 slots on USA Today's 18th annual All-USA Academic Team.

Sean A. Genis and Christopher L. Marsh, both of Western Pennsylvania, were honored for their grades, leadership and extracurricular activities.

The contest began with applications from about 600 students nominated by their schools, said program coordinator Tracey Wong Briggs.

This is the third year in a row that the Naval Academy has had two students make the list. It is the only school to place more than one student on the list.

"I couldn't stop smiling," Marsh said about hearing of the award. "I could definitely tell that my parents were very proud of me."

Marsh, a systems engineering major, is the Naval Academy's regimental commander, the second-highest rank for a midshipman.

He spent 4 1/2 weeks in Los Alamos, N.M., working on a control system for a nuclear reactor that would operate on the moon.

Marsh, 22, who aspires to be an astronaut, plans to study spacecraft control. He plans to attend graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology or Georgia Institute of Technology before enrolling in flight school in Pensacola, Fla.

"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed," he said.

He has been on the varsity sprint football team for four years and was a founding member of "1 in 4," a performance group that focuses on rape awareness among men.

Genis, 22, also has many responsibilities. He has been a member of the cycling team and the glee club. The physics major also did extensive research on acoustic land mine detection as one of the Naval Academy's Trident scholars.

The program is for seniors who have completed enough work toward their major that they can focus on research.

He hopes his research in the field, coupled with his work as a Rhodes scholar after graduation from the academy, will lead to a better understanding of nontechnical solutions to detecting land mines.

Of his Rhodes scholarship he said, "I'm absolutely ecstatic. Only about 32 people in the country get the opportunity to travel because of the Rhodes fund," he said. "It's going to be a tremendous opportunity."

During the two years he spends in England as a Rhodes scholar, he plans to study politics, philosophy and economics. He will then return to the Navy as a submariner.

Marsh and Genis, who are friends, plan to save most of the $2,500 prize money for graduate school or traveling expenses.

"We haven't celebrated yet," Genis said. "In the near future, we'll go out and celebrate a little bit."

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