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CC Students Learn About West Point Military Academy From John Smith ’22

 

On Thursday, March 21, 2024, Catholic Central students heard from guest speaker John Smith ‘22, who spoke about attending West Point Military Academy after high school. 

West Point is a United States Academy that provides training and a four-year college education for Army cadets. Graduates earn their Bachelor of Science degrees and go on to become second lieutenants in the United States Army.

Freshman Xavier Way attended the discussion to learn more about how difficult it is to get in. This was the first career speaking event he had attended at CC. Another student attended to get a preview of what daily life is like as he is thinking about going into the army eventually. 

Smith is currently a sophomore at West Point majoring in statistics. While at CC, he was on the track team all four years.

“I want to tell you I’m not a recruiter. I’m not here to sell you on West Point. I’m here to inform you. With that being said, West Point is a public university. It’s fully funded, and you’re guaranteed employment in the army when you’re done. It’s a lot like CC in that it emphasizes commitment, goodness, and discipline,” Smith stated.

He showed students a PowerPoint slide containing mission statements from both CC and West Point, explaining how similar they are. 

“There are four areas of focus for West Point – academic, physical, military, and character. Character is the basis of this,” he stated. 

Smith explained his daily schedule at West Points to students. “I wake up at 6 AM, have breakfast and go to formation, then attend classes throughout the day until 3:30 or 4. Then I eat dinner and do homework,” he explained.

At West Point, there are “bigs” and “littles.” Smith explained that “bigs” refers to upperclassmen and “littles” refers to younger students. “After you’ve been in for a year, you have someone to look over and watch over. I have a freshman to look over that I’m responsible for.”

He asked students if they had questions for him about West Point. One student asked, “Is West Point what you expected?”

Smith answered, “Yes and no. The development I’ve received is what I thought [it would be]. There is a big emphasis on character. There are a lot more things I didn’t think I had to do, like praying all the time. Mental preparation is really important, and I wasn’t really aware of what to expect. My roommates knew what they were getting into, and they helped us adjust and get used to it.”

He asked students, “Is serving really important to you guys? I’ll tell you that everyone goes to that school for different reasons. I played army as a kid and I’ve never stopped. I always wanted to serve. I have friends who were recruited and none of them are more important or less important.”

Smith explained that students can choose from 36 majors at West Point. Applications are due at the end of junior year. 

“The classes are pretty small, which is good or bad depending on what you think. It’s super easy to get help from an instructor if you need it. The classes are straightforward. It’s easy to get practice and hands-on experience. I was paired with a senior advisor in the math department and any questions I have, I go to him. Being physical is super important there,” he stated. 

To prepare for West Point, Smith stated that the Goodness, Discipline, Knowledge (GDK) program at Catholic Central is helpful. 

“Honor plaza is a really important thing. I was in good shape in a character sense when I got out of CC but it’s another level at West Point. They have revamped the GDK program here at CC since I graduated and that will be helpful to students,” he continued. 

He also briefly explained the difference between the Army and Navy, stating that the Army focuses more on leadership and the Navy tends to be more academically inclined. 

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