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East County Wednesday, Jun. 5, 2019 1 year ago

Braden River High School graduate earns invitation to U.S. Naval Academy

Samantha Drouin wants to make a difference, perhaps someday as a politician.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

The sandwich was a club croissant.

Which might sound tasty, but not best-meal-ever tasty.

Unless you are Samantha Drouin, who was sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the time, looking over at the Washington Monument.

It was right before her freshman year at Braden River High School, and Drouin's grandfather, Wayne LaMura, had taken her on a trip to Washington, D.C., along with grandma Maria. It was an exploratory trip that included a swing through the U.S. Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis.

Samantha Drouin is heading to the U.S. Naval Academy.

On June 27, Winding River's Drouin will return to Annapolis, this time to begin her Plebe Summer of training before, after seven weeks of training, she begins life at the Naval Academy.

"I fell in love with Annapolis, and I fell in love with D.C.," she said. "I liked feeling how much power everyone has to make an influence."

She wants to be a leader, and that might mean by taking a path into government.

"I think being a leader is something people are naturally born with," she said. "It takes confidence and knowing who you are. But that doesn't mean you can't become a leader."

Since her father, Steven, was a Marine Corps Combat Engineer from 1991-99, she had grown to respect the military. It seemed like a logical road for her.

She will take quantitative economics ("The math side of politics") and perhaps engineering.

"I knew she had what it takes to get herself there," her mother, Dorian Drouin, said of her trip to the academy. "She always has been that kind of person that if she sets her mind to it, she will get it done. She is just a hard worker, a hard charger."

Her grandfather knew Drouin dreamed of going to the Naval Academy and he wanted to whet her appetite, so that led to the trip before her freshman year of high school. It was three years earlier, though, that LaMura and his granddaughter were watching the Army-Navy game and she asked him what it was all about.

Drouin was in sixth grade at the time she remembers being fascinated by the uniforms and the tradition.

"I thought it was awesome," she said. "I wanted to stand up there with the Midshipmen. I always had wanted to go to college, and I had always been diligent with my grades and extracurriculars."

Grandpa told her to dream big.

After that trip to the academy, Drouin put her effort into finding a way to get back to Annapolis.

"She was never home," Dorian Drouin said. "She was volunteering, involved in clubs and choir, volleyball, both beach and indoor, and at night, homework. I really didn't see her much the last four years."

It might have been made easier by the fact Samantha Drouin, who is now 18, grew up in a disciplined household.

"We just had basic rules," Dorian Drouin said. "Don't cheat, lie or steal. We tried to give her a good balance of discipline, trust and independence. It is hard raising kids at this time. With social media, they are exposed to so much more. You are trying to shield them, but at the same time prepare them. It's a balance."

Steven and Dorian Drouin lived with their family, that includes their sons Michael, 14, Peter, 6, and David, 4, in Littleton, Colo., until 2015 when they moved to East County.

"I had to abide by the rules (of the household)," Samantha Drouin said. "And I grew up around the idea of discipline and serving your country ... loving your country. I am glad that I did."

Dorian Drouin said her daughter, Samantha, always has been a "hard charger."

At Braden River, she was team captain of her volleyball team, the team manager for the football team and a senator in student government. Meanwhile, she filled out applications to Florida State and South Florida, but there only was one place she really wanted to go.

She got a big boost when Congressman Vern Buchanan gave her his principal nomination. Eventually, the word came. She was in.

"I cry a lot," her mom said. "I still haven't put a finger on what those emotions are. There is a sadness and a pride mixed together. If anyone can do it, I know she can."

Samantha Drouin know continues to prepare for some vigorous training, while always enjoying her final summer before she begins a commitment with includes a five-year enlistment after she graduates from the academy.

"I am going to the beach as much as possible," she said.

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