PENDLETON --- For 22-year-old Samuel Hill, 2016 has been the year of results.

"This is the year where I have seen my hard work pay off," said Hill, a 2016 Tri-County Technical College associate in science graduate who spent 2015 working toward his goal of being accepted into the United States Naval Academy.  Only seven percent, or 1,184, of the 17,043 applicants are admitted.

After a year of preparation and application, he learned from Senator Tim Scott's office in February he was offered a full qualified appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.  The admission process is lengthy and requires the nomination of a U.S. Congressman or one of the state's two U.S. Senators.  Samuel received both -- a #1 nomination from Congressman Jeff Duncan and a nomination from Senator Scott, as well.

The young men and women who enter the Naval Academy get paid while they are enrolled and then serve a five-year military commitment as paid officers in the United States Navy or Marine Corps.

He learned of his acceptance via an e-mail and days later was informed by both Duncan and Scott's offices that he would be offered an appointment. "I received a call from Senator Scott's office who told me I would receive an offer of appointment to the Naval Academy the next week.  I was at work and saw a Columbia area code pop up on my phone. I heard Taylor Yarnal's voice, who is my contact with the nomination process.  I didn't scream then, but I did a lot of smiling."

It was among his proudest moments. 

"It is a lifelong dream to be accepted into the Naval Academy.  It will help me to succeed in anything I do," he said.

He departed for Annapolis, Maryland, June 30 after finishing his final summer school class and a month before Tri-County's summer commencement.

Hill entered Tri-County in 2014 just before his 21st birthday with the goals of building academic clout needed for admission into the Naval Academy and cultivating his leadership skills.

He and Student Government Association (SGA) President Caleb Allen had the opportunity to address the S.C. Legislative Delegation in Columbia in early 2016.  "Tri-County helped me to achieve my dream," said Hill, who was home schooled for 12 years. He told the lawmakers about his experiences as a student and how Tri-County helped him to reach his goals.

"My extracurricular activity was strong but my academics were lacking because I didn't have a recognized accredited high school transcript.  It was a big deal and pretty cool to speak to this group of people whom I admire.  One day, I want to be one of them listening to a Tri-County student like me telling his or her success story," he said.

"My first year at Tri-County I was super focused on my studies and my jobs," said Hill, who has worked two part-time jobs -at Anderson Regional Airport as a part-time Flight Line Technician and he operated his handyman business on the side. The next semester he sought out opportunities for service.

The last year and a half have been packed with accomplishments.

He began by visiting the Student Government Association (SGA) office and asking questions.  "An organization that is designed to promote student activities and to better the student experience appealed to me," he said.

He was elected vice president of SGA and traveled with fellow officers to Columbia to accept third-place honors in the 2015-2016 South Carolina Technical Education Association (SCTEA) Community Involvement Project competition.   Their project was titled, "Captivating Lives with Literacy."

"Service is a big part of my life," said Hill. "When you serve others, it adds value to your own life.  You're part of something bigger."

Croslena Johnson, manager of student development and wellness programs and advisor for the SGA, says, "I have been very impressed by Sam-his character, his work ethic and personality.  Sam is an amazing individual, and I am so proud to have been able to get to know him as a leader and a person," she said. 

"Sam is the kind of person who genuinely cares about being an active, committed participant in whatever he does.  Whether it is chorus or SGA -he believes in hard work and teamwork.  He is definitely a strong leader, and an humble servant who knows how to motivate the team," she said. 

"As SGA vice president, he approached assignments and projects with a confident, positive and winning attitude in a very genuine and selfless manner. You never have to second-guess if he will follow-through-- things will get done and done efficiently. He truly exemplifies the Student Development theme, "Take Charge- Own It!"   

Hill also is a singer and performed in church for most of his life. "I began singing at age two or three, and they couldn't get me to stop," he said.   A memorable moment of 2016 was singing the National Anthem at then-Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's campaign event in Anderson. 

Hill also joined the College's chorus in 2015.  Julia West, music instructor and director of choral/band activities, said, "From the start, Sam has always been one of those students I knew I could count on. He's one of those rare people who always wants to learn more and do the hard work to make himself a better, smarter, and stronger person every single day.  He's always willing to lend a hand; nearly every time I've needed a student to perform at a special event, even when we needed a guitarist for our band, he has jumped right in and worked his hardest to make himself and others shine," she said.

"I'm always amazed at the excellent work he does without any complaint and without being asked.  I'm so proud to have worked with him this year. I'll always consider him not only one of my brightest students but a great friend as well, and I can't wait to see what he can do going forward."

While holding down a full academic load - at times 19 credit hours, Hill joined the Anderson Civil Air Patrol in 2014 and within three months was appointed deputy commander of cadets.

How does he see himself in 10 years?  "Flying off the decks of navy aircraft carriers," he said.

In two decades?  "If not serving in the military, I will be pursuing my political aspirations," he said.  

 "I love networking and talking to folks," he said.  He campaigned for Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney and several state races, including his brother, Jonathon Hill, who was elected in 2014 to the District 8 House of Representatives.

He doesn't plan on slowing down.

"I juggle my time very judiciously and in order of priority.  I try not to have spare time -- because then time gets wasted."