It’s been 4 years since Amaris Michelle Lopez, 21, received her letter of assurance for the U.S. Naval Academy. She recently graduated as an Ensign commissioned officer.

Lopez was born in Weslaco, raised in McAllen and graduated 2016 from IB Lamar Academy via Nikki Rowe. She heard about the Naval Academy during the fall semester of her senior year.

“When I was doing my college search, there was just something that I couldn’t … put it to words what I felt when I first read about what all the Naval Academy had to offer,” Lopez said.

The U.S. Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, according to its website.

Lopez said she did not have any military knowledge prior to her application. She was enticed by the academy’s emphasis in discipline and its goal to create leaders. It gave her something to work toward.

Lopez gained her official appointment from former U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, and reported June 2016 for Induction Day, the first day of Plebe Summer for the Naval Academy newest class to indoctrinate into military life.

“You … say ‘bye’ to your parents and you’re stuck there pretty much … 50 days,” Lopez said. “No phone, no … connection to the outside world. You’re just kind of living in a bubble, learning how to… make the transition from civilian life to military.”

This year, during Spring Break, she came to McAllen, thinking she would be returning to the academy at the end of vacation. But, with the COVID-19 outbreak, the academy sent out an order to the Brigade of Midshipmen not to come back.

Lopez pictured after the ceremony.

When traditional graduation commissioning week was canceled, the academy rather organized smaller ceremonies in Tecumseh Court at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Those were recorded and put together into a virtual ceremony for the Brigade to have a notion of the traditional milestone event.

The virtual ceremony was broadcasted live May 22.

Lopez graduated with a bachelor of science in English, and her primary goal is to get the qualification of the surface warfare officer, a role described as the backbone of fleet leadership.

She is currently quarantining for two weeks in Giuseppe, close to the Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

As an Ensign O-1 Officer, she wants to be the best prepared to seize any opportunity that comes up.

“It’s exciting,” Lopez said. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I … genuinely believe I am where I’m supposed to be.”

An archive video of the commissioning ceremony is available to stream at