Lt. Gen. Nadja West, the 44th Surgeon General of the Army, Commander of U.S. Army Medical Command, and U.S. Military Academy (USMA) graduate ('82), supported the West Point Diversity Outreach Office's Inspire Dinner at the Thayer Hotel on Friday, February 17, 2017.

West, the guest speaker, spoke to the cadet candidates and their families about her experiences at USMA and the opportunities afforded to her as a graduate. Additionally, West shared the importance of major life decisions, to include the candidates' pending decision to choose an institution of higher learning.

"When I was in your shoes, looking at my future and knowing that I had some pretty big decisions to make, it actually seemed much a natural part of who I am to choose to attend West Point," said West.

"As you walked around West Point and met the people here, I hope you got a sense of purpose that permeates the air here. That is, to me, what makes this institution so different from any other college campus in the U.S., and, really, even different than any other service academy. I hope each of you felt it…being part of something larger than yourselves," she added.

West concluded by sharing her inspiring personal story, and reinforcing the message that each candidate has the abilities to thrive and be successful at West Point.

"My father enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 'Private' in 1939 and rose to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4 when he retired after a 33-year career. Although she did not wear a uniform, my mother was by his side every step of the way. As the wife of a Soldier and mother of 12 adopted children, she served…as any military spouse serves," said West. "Nine of my brothers and sisters served in various branches of the military, I make the tenth who has served. Ten out of 12 of us served in the military, not because of any family pressure, but because we each made our individual decision to give back to our Nation."

"Our parents set a noble example for us to live by," she continued. "In fact, I would not be standing here before you today if it was not for the sense of selfless service that was instilled in me by my family's example."

The Inspire Dinner, a culminating event for USMA's most competitive applicants, is held for minority cadet candidates and their families visiting West Point prior to their acceptance and matriculation. Many of the cadet candidates were awarded 'Letters of Assurance' as well as full offers of admission to both the United States Military Academy and/or the United States Military Academy Preparatory School. Cadet candidates also had the opportunity to experienced Cadet life through tours, classroom visits, and Cadet-led sponsorship.