Maeve Roach, soon to be a Coast Guard cadet. | Photo submitted

From the time Maeve Roach first moved to Forest Park at age 10, she already knew she wanted to pursue a career serving her country. Now the Nazareth Academy senior is one step closer to achieving that goal — she was just accepted into the United States Coast Guard Academy.

While the Forest Parker’s aspirations have always been set on a national career, she has already built up an impressive resume during her four years at Nazareth, where she established herself as a leader, both as an athlete and in the classroom.

Roach has been a top runner in high school, first as a 400-meter and 800-meter sprinter on the track team and later as a member of the cross country team. During her first year on cross country as a sophomore, she ran at the state meet. This past season, Roach was a regional medalist. 

“Ever since [joining cross country], I’ve just loved the sport,” she said. “I just love running.”

Off the tracks and outdoor courses, she has been equally accomplished in academics, an Illinois State Scholar who is currently serving as the vice president of the National Honors Society and spearheading a student-tutoring program.

“I set up tutors for any kid in the school who needs it,” Roach said.

Despite having a packed daily schedule for all four years of high school, Roach kept her eye on the dream of serving in the military.

“I’ve known I wanted to serve my country since fifth grade, so going into high school, I knew I was going to have to apply,” she explained. “I didn’t know which academy I wanted to go into, so I was going to have to apply to summer programs.”

While Roach’s father spent his career with the Navy, she felt it would be best to explore multiple service branches. Over the past few years, she attended summer programs with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. After a cross-country recruiting overnight, Roach knew the Coast Guard was for her.

“I just love the Coast Guard’s mission and everything they do and every aspect of the job,” she said. “I talked to some people in the Coast Guard and my dad’s in the Navy, and I talked to some officers in the Air Force and Army, and they all said such positive things about the Coast Guard that I was just attracted to it.”

After applying to her number one college choice, the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, Roach became one of 300 candidates accepted from a pool of 5,000 yearly applicants.

Following graduation from the academy after four years as a student (and cross country runner), Roach will commit to at least five years of service. As for a specific vocational track, she would love to be a pilot and plans to make a full career commitment to the Coast Guard.

Even though Roach has been fascinated with the military for years, she says her high school years have provided the chance to mature and develop skills she will need for her future.

“I think it’s important to be involved in high school because you have to develop every aspect of yourself,” she said. “You have to develop as an athlete, as an academic student and social skills, and I just think it’s super-important to be completely immersed in your community.”

As for advice to offer other Forest Park teens for success in school and figuring out a career path, Roach said be open to all opportunities that head your way.

“Don’t limit yourself,” Roach said. “Get involved with everything and just put yourself out there and try new things. Try to find yourself through your activities.”