By Art Pulis
Special to The Sun
Attending one of the country’s service academies is a dream of many young people, and its achievement is rare. Having two in one family, at the same time in the same academy, is incredible.
This happened in the Bergman family several years ago, and now Tucker Nixon and Tanner Nixon are attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Both young men recently graduated from Wickenburg Christian Academy, and Tucker is presently a first classman (senior) and Tanner is a plebe (freshman).
People sometimes question if a small Christian school in a small town is capable of preparing students for one of the most challenging academic programs in the country? The answer is obviously, “Yes.”
“Probably the biggest thing is my experience with projects and communication. WCA has a great emphasis on reading books and presenting in both written and verbal forms,” Tucker said. “I had a lot of opportunities to make presentations and develop projects at WCA, so I was very well prepared for the heavy reading and writing requirements at the Academy.”
“The two major things for me were my senior thesis and having Mr. Douthat for math,” Tanner said. “In my first semester alone, I’ve had to do several papers of eight pages or more. Without having had the experience of researching, writing, and then defending my thesis, I wouldn’t have been as prepared for the classwork.
“I can’t say enough for how Mr. Douthat prepared me for math. I was able to jump directly into Calculus II and did well with the class.”
Both boys said that being at the Academy with a brother also at the school was not significantly different.
“With 4,400 students, most people didn’t realize I had a brother in school,” Tanner said. “I love it when I’m able to get some tips, but don’t necessarily love it when he borrows my brand-new stuff. The greatest thing is that I’m able to get a little privacy when I duck into Tucker’s room and relax a little.”
Both boys commented about the cultural transition from Wickenburg to life in the Academy.
“I went from a small school where pretty much everyone thought the same, to a totally diverse population,” Tanner said. “I’ve learned to live with a group of very different people and have to be careful to think before I speak knowing that not everyone thinks the same as I do.”
Due to differences in age, the future is different. Tucker has elected to become a Marine upon commissioning, so he will go directly to Marine Basic School, which all Marine officers attend, and learn to lead an infantry platoon of 30 to 40 Marines. With more than three years of the Academy to go, Tanner plans to major in operations research and hopes to attend flight school upon commissioning.
Interestingly, both boys had similar advice for young people entering high school.
“We were brought up with a can-do attitude where almost anything that you want is possible if you are willing to do the hard work to get it,” Tucker said. “When you have a dream and it sticks with you, it’s probably from God. With the work, He will make it come true.”