“I want West Point”. This statement was repeated each and every time I met with Mac and his family. I was up to the challenge, but was he? I wasn’t convinced, and so I shared with him what West Point required and what he needed to achieve. This didn’t deter him and with encouragement from his family he made a plan based on our discussions and my recommendations.
First and foremost his strengths included athletics; both travel and Varsity soccer, service; church youth group and mentorship, and academics, a strong average, and National Honor Society. His leadership however, wasn’t up to par and so we made a plan to increase this important factor, not only for the United States Military Academy, but other applications as well. West Point is not easy and in my mind a big risk, but one we pursued with energy and continued enthusiasm.
Last year West Point received 13,827 files that were started, with only 4,120 nominations, of those 2,360 qualified for academic and physicals. How many were admitted? 1,257 admits with 92 Valedictorians, 49 Salutatorians, and 198 National Merit Scholars. Mac had none of those special honors, but what he possessed was even greater, grit and perseverance. His determination to be a cadet at West Point was nothing like I’ve ever seen. He never faltered and he believed in himself from our first meeting. Once he received the nomination from Congressman Gibson I knew we had momentum.
Each time we met he had accomplished another task; volunteered in the Bronx at a homeless shelter creating a program for the men who frequented the facility. We poured over statistics, videos, and 92 other engineering programs that were possibilities, but none were really right for him. He scheduled some college visits, but never felt satisfied. I began to believe more and more that West Point will happen. He reached out to the soccer coach, and players he met while attending various camps at West Point. He emailed, not obsessively; just enough to remind those in command he existed.
The first committee interview was scheduled, and the next, and the next. It was daunting and seemed if the process would never end.
While enduring the wait, he began to create his “book,” as I call it. A vast portfolio of Mac and his accolades since freshman year of high school; categories that specifically fit the Army: pictures, awards, volunteerism, service, and leadership. It was impressive, to be sure. He mailed each “book” to the nominations committee prior to his interview. He received some additional honors fall semester and also sent the new pages to the committee. A costly and timely endeavor, but worth the dime and energy to do so.
We continue to wait.
He began the common application, only because he had to. We made sure it was absolutely accurate and he applied to a few schools.
He was called for his final interview
The Sunday after Thanksgiving I receive a call from his mom that Mac was admitted to the United States Military Academy. Tears flowed, we screamed for joy, and I was never so proud and elated for one of my clients. His sheer determination and belief in himself got him there.
Mac just finished his freshman year as a cadet, he has experienced trials and tribulations: rifle drills and shooting, safety, drills, repelling from helicopters, scaling rock ledges, rescuing comrades, playing soccer, attending football games, meeting new friends, experiencing traditions, intense academics, early roll calls and so on….When you ask him if he would do it all over again, he replies, “YES MAM.”