Jackson McDermott ’20 Appointed to U.S. Military Academy at West Point
We are proud to share that Jackson McDermott ’20 has earned an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy— also known as West Point— and will attend this fall.
West Point, which has an acceptance rate of ~10 percent, has an incredibly competitive and detailed admission process, which includes academic, physical and leadership requirements, as well as a congressional or service-connected nomination.
We spoke to Jackson about his path to West Point and what he’s most looking forward to about attending the prestigious institution.
Has it been a goal of yours to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for some time? What inspired your decision?
“The idea of becoming a member of the military and going to West Point has been a dream of mine since I was about nine or ten years old. Growing up, we all go through different phases of imagining all the different things we can become. My dream of attending West Point and becoming a member of the U.S. Military just sort of stuck with me.
I guess the factors that helped inspire that decision for so long were the ideals of working to fulfill a purpose greater than myself and being a part of a team of other individuals motivated to do the same thing. When I was younger it was still just an idea, though. Getting ready to graduate 8th grade and transition into high school was when I really started to take action on this goal. I knew how big of a commitment it would be in order to even have a chance of getting into a school like West Point. I remember asking myself, ‘Is this really something that I want to pursue?’ The answer to that question was yes, and from that point forward I never looked back.
Admission to West Point is very competitive. Tell us about the process and your experience.
“The admissions process for getting into West Point was very long. I opened my application at the beginning of August and I did not finish until mid-January. In order to be considered a competitive admissions candidate, you not only have to be strong academically, you also have to be physically fit and demonstrate leadership qualities. The work that I put in, inside and outside of SJND throughout my high school years, helped me tremendously as I navigated the admissions process. I would say that there are two major parts of the application, in general: there’s the actual application to West Point, where you send in your transcripts, standardized test scores, a resume of extracurricular activities, and also recommendation letters. There are also interviews with West Point Alumni conducted along the way, a fitness assessment to demonstrate physical capabilities, and also a medical exam. Additionally, you have to get a nomination from a member of Congress. That in itself was almost like a completely separate college application. As an applicant you have to either get the nomination from the House Member from your district or from one of your state Senators.
Through putting all my information and recommendation letters together, I submitted applications to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Kamala Harris. Those were submitted in October and then I went through an interviewing process with their staff some time between November and December. January came around and I was grateful to find out that Nancy Pelosi had given me the nomination. Overall, the process of getting into West Point took a lot of time and effort. Through my application I was able to prove myself as a well-rounded candidate. When February rolled around, I got the answer that I had always dreamed of.”
Do you have a major/field of study in mind?
“At this point in time I am still not quite clear in what I want to major in. History is a subject that I very much enjoy and if I had to choose today that is what I would major in. Luckily, I do not have to choose a field of study until the second semester of my freshman year. By that point I believe I will have a more clear and precise answer as to what it is I want to major in.”
What are you most looking forward to about attending West Point?
“When thinking about what I look forward to about attending West Point, so many things come to mind. The historical significance it has is just astonishing. It is still shocking to think about receiving the opportunity to go to a school that trained such pivotal leaders like General Ulysses S. Grant and George Patton. I really look forward to the challenges that I face mentally, physically, and academically, as it will all aid in shaping me to be the best person I can become. I am also excited to get to meet and work with my fellow cadets who come from various backgrounds and places throughout the world and yet share many similar attributes and goals that I do. Another key part that I look forward to while attending West Point is the opportunity to go out and continue my baseball career by earning a spot on the team. My goals in baseball have come hand in hand with my goals in attending West Point and I look forward to furthering the work that I have put in and showing what I can do.”