Van Steenburgh, Philip
Candidate Number: 706656

I have always had, and always will have, a strong sense of gratitude for my situation in life, particularly the freedoms that I enjoy in the United States of America. In conjunction with that gratitude, I feel equally responsible as a citizen to uphold, protect, and ensure those benefits for myself, my family, and for generations that will follow. The naval service will allow me to act upon those convictions, while also providing me with an education, a career, and an opportunity to affect the history of our country in a positive way, by lending to her protection and safety.

From the United States Naval Academy, I seek to gain an invaluable four years of preparation and education. Apart from God, education ranks as my highest priority. I believe that the Naval Academy will encourage my pursuit of academic excellence, while at the same time providing me with more than just textbook solutions to my future. The Naval Academy will teach, train, and encourage me to excel in class, in the service, in my career, and in life. Because my highest goal for my life is to glorify God to the best of my ability in whatever occupation I pursue, I place my trust in the Naval Academy to train me in character, morals, and a lifestyle that will support my life-long goal.

It has been a little less than a year since I experienced an event that changed my life completely. The summer of 2001 will forever remain in my mind as a time of hardship, struggle, and realization of the inescapable truth of God’s existence in human’s everyday lives. Last summer, Bethany Enloe, a friend of only eighteen years of age was diagnosed with cancer. She received the news in June, and was gone from this earth only four months later. Although I wrote her constantly, visited her in the hospital daily, and tried to encourage her with Bible verses, my character was not affected by my efforts, but rather by her testimony throughout her life, and especially throughout her final four months. As I watched her life slowly fade, I also saw her faith and trust in God become more and more radiant. The strength, courage, and hope that she displayed were an undeniable testament to God’s faithfulness in her life.

Not many things on this earth will change a person’s perspective like the death of a close friend. I learned from Bethany’s Christ-filled life and testimony that recognition among your peers is meaningless unless they, through your life, recognize God and His glory. My character continues to be molded and matured daily, because God, through His grace, gives me the strength to live righteously. However, the most telling experience that will reflect my true character is yet to come. When I, like Bethany, reach the day that I fade from this earth, I want to wake up to see my God, and hear Him say, “Well done.”