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Three Livingston County grads among Service Academy appointees

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) held a special ceremony and reception Thursday in Howell to celebrate the nine future Cadets and Midshipmen who have been appointed to U.S. Service Academies.

Because the application and nomination process began in the fall of 2022, prior to Congressional redistricting, the students come from across the former 8th Congressional District (Ingham, Livingston, and North Oakland Counties). Six of them will be headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy, two will attend the U.S. Naval Academy, and one will enroll at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Each Congressional office is invited to nominate up to 10 candidates each year, per open vacancy, at the U.S. Service Academies which include the U.S. Military Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy and Air Force Academy. In collaboration with her Service Academy Advisory Panel, a review board made up of district veterans, Slotkin’s office reviewed candidates, and put forward the names of the top candidates to the U.S. service academies.

Surrounded by their families, friends, and school and community leaders, Rep. Slotkin encouraged the group to make the most of their incredible opportunity.

“As someone who has worked alongside the military for my entire career, nominating the young men and women of our district who have chosen to take a big step forward in service to this nation is one of my favorite nights of the year. Reflecting the years of effort these students have put into preparing for this opportunity, my office takes service nominations very seriously, and it’s a true privilege to send them off,” said Slotkin. “This year, we honored 9 extraordinary individuals who will soon receive an outstanding education and invaluable training at our nation’s service academies, preparing them for almost everything they may want to do in life. These students represent a new generation of leaders, one that will chart a new course for our country that rejects divisiveness and upholds the values of equality, dignity, and respect for all. I know they will lead with character and purpose, and I offer them my highest congratulations.”

The nine students who will be attending U.S. service academies in the fall, along with the school they currently attend (and for post-graduates, the high school they attended), in alphabetical order, are:

• Liliane Aittama (U.S. Air Force Academy, South Lyon East High School)

• Jared Cypher (U.S. Naval Academy, Oxford High School)

• Jaidah Davis (U.S. Air Force Academy, Howell High School)

• Brianna Johnston (U.S. Naval Academy, OKMA International Academy) 

• Samuel Keranen (U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Brighton High School)

• Vlad Lovin (U.S. Air Force Academy, Culver Military Academy/Rochester Adams High School)

• Amelia McWilliam (U.S. Air Force Academy, Brighton High School)

• Maxwell Smedley (U.S. Air Force Academy, Michigan State University/Lansing Everett High School)

• Not Pictured: MacKenzie Ayriss, (U.S. Air Force Academy, Georgia Military College/Clarkston High School


The three Livingston County students are:

Jaidah Davis is a senior at Howell High School and a fourth year Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet. As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also plays varsity Softball and is in both the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society, while also being at the top of her class. Last summer, Jaidah was one of just a handful of students selected for the Air Force Junior ROTC Flight Academy Chief of Staff Private Pilot Scholarship at the University of North Dakota. After successfully completing the 8-week session, Jaidah graduated with her Private Pilot’s License. Jaidah has also been named the top Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet in Michigan, the top Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet in the region covering the states of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and is among the top eight Air Force Junior ROTC cadets in the nation. It will come as no surprise to learn that Jaidah will be attending the United States Air Force Academy. It will also not be surprising to hear that she is one of just 100 cadets nationwide to receive the J-100 Air Force Junior ROTC Character-in-Leadership Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship to the academy. Jaidah says she hopes to lead a long and fruitful career as an aviator, and to serve her country with honor.

Sam Keranen, Brighton High School, will be attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. Sam has demonstrated his exemplary leadership skills in many ways, including being a captain on the boys swim and dive team, where he led the team to a third place finish in the state this year, and took down the oldest swim record in Brighton High School history in the 200 Freestyle, dating back to 1985. He also broke the school record in the 500 freestyle, a record previously held by a swimmer with a familiar name: Sam Keranen (yes, he broke his own record). Sam is a member of the National Honors Society and the leadership class at Brighton High School. This year he helped spearhead a candy drive for active duty troops. Thanks to his efforts, the group collected more than $4000 dollars worth of candy. Sam is also on the track team and runs a woodworking company with his father called Crafted by Keranen. Sam is the 3rd of four children in his family and loves spending time outdoors, including fishing and hiking. He says attending West Point will be a dream come true, and he plans to major in either civil or electrical engineering and commission as an aviation or infantry officer.

Amelia McWilliam is another member of the Brighton High School class of 2023. Amelia was born in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Brighton in 2010. Just a few years later she began riding horses, which would become a real passion. She now lives on a small family farm where they have three horses of their own. This year, Amelia was the captain of Brighton High School’s Equestrian team, in addition to competing with the Powerlifting team and the Track team. She is also a member of the marching band, as well as co-chair of our National Honor Society chapter’s Veteran Committee. Amelia will be attending the United States Air Force Academy and says she has a strong desire to serve her country and hopes to pursue a career as a pilot.

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