Zac was a Marlin from 2007-2011 and graduated both Top Ten and Hall of Fame, class of 2011. While at Arnold, he played JV and Varsity baseball, was a competition member of ITS and participated in Junior Leadership Bay. The Collegiate Studies program had a lasting impression on his high school career. The rigor of the classes, the teachers who challenged the students’ ways of thinking (remember Mr. Simonson???!!!) and the variety of courses, all contributed to his future success. Zac took numerous AP and DE classes which helped satisfy several of his college core class requirements. One of the many benefits of the Collegiate Studies program and taking these difficult courses, is that they gave his high school resume additional merit. As he heard during one of his many college visits, “To even be considered, we expect you to take the most challenging course that your high school offers.” Arnold High School and the Collegiate Studies program provided that. During his junior year, Zac visited over a dozen universities, across 8 states. Some were large universities, such as UF and UNC, some were very small, like Davidson in NC. He immediately fell in love with Wake Forest, placing it number one on his list. He was accepted at Wake and was awarded a hefty academic 4 year scholarship, which Zac credits in part to Collegiate Studies. “Being able to highlight the academic program that I was a part of, essentially a school within a school, helped personalize my high school experience. It gave me a leg up, especially at a university where many of the applicants were from private, collegiate high schools.” Zac graduated from Wake Forest University in 2015, majoring in Physics and Mathematics. His initial plan was to pursue a masters in engineering, but during a summer internship, he had a massive change of heart. “I had always loved flying. Growing up on Panama City Beach, we are used to hearing the jets and helicopters overhead. I realized that pursuing flight was my future.” But Zac didn’t just want to be a pilot, he wanted to serve his country as well. Just after graduation, he was selected for the rigorous OCC program, but was disqualified for flight due to 2 titanium screws in his ankle from a baseball injury his sophomore year of high school. Undeterred, he underwent surgery to have the screws removed so he could be reconsidered. Looking at a long recovery, Zac enrolled in a rigorous Masters program at Wake Forest and was able to earn his Masters in Business and Leadership during that year. He graduated the spring of 2016, was selected for OCC as a flight candidate, and began the next chapter a few months later. Zac spent a year in Quantico, Virginia, completing OCS and TBS and then relocated to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Upon completion of primary flight school, he selected rotary and went on to finish his advanced training in Milton, Florida. Zac is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, just outside of San Diego, training on his chosen wing, the UH-IY helicopter, a close air support combat helicopter. Zac looks back on his time at Arnold with fond memories. The homecoming activities, football nights at Gavlak, long hours on buses, heading to away baseball games… High School is not who you are, it is just a few short years in your life. However, who you are to become is shaped by those years. Make that time worth it. Enjoy yourself, build memories, but keep your eye on the prize…which is yet to come.