The U.S. Military Academy Class of 2020 will graduate 1,123 cadets on June 13. Those graduating represent 83% of the 1,302 cadets who entered West Point nearly four years ago.Due to COVID-19 delaying graduation, members of the class commissioned Saturday during an oath of commissioning ceremony from remote locations. It marked another unique venture for the new second lieutenants of the Class of 2020 within their 47-month journey.Over the next four weeks, The Pointer View series titled, “With Vision We Lead,” named after the class motto, involves various members of the class telling stories of their West Point experience.In honor of the members of the 222nd graduating class of West Point, here is the first installment of a four-part series of their journey in their own words ...Class of 2020 Cadet Joshua PhillipsPointer View: When it comes to your Class of 2020 motto, “With Vision We Lead,” what do those words mean to you?Class of 2020 President Joshua Phillips: “Although people get a kick out of the 20-20/Vision pun, the motto has a deep meaning. Before anyone can accomplish their goals, that person must have a vision first. To me, our motto embodies the spirit of the class. A class full of thoughtful, energetic, ambitious and confident future Army officers. These words will be our guide as we go out into the Army and lead America’s sons and daughters.”PV: What does service and leadership mean to you as you start your career as an Army officer?JP: “Service and leadership mean answering the call to duty and putting the welfare of your subordinates before your own. I am extremely motivated to serve this country in the role of an Army officer, one of the highest honors that our great country affords those who are willing and able.”PV: What advice would you give to the underclassmen or to your younger self from four years ago with what you know now from your academy experience?JP: “The best advice I could give to the underclassmen is to, ‘get ready because your life is about to change.’ There will be good times and bad times, but you will graduate a better person and leader than you ever could have imagined.“Lastly, try your best to develop a relationship or bond with ALL of your classmates. The classes at West Point aren’t that large, but cadets have a lot on their plates. The last thing you want is to graduate from this great institution with strangers for classmates. The people at West Point are absolutely amazing!”PV: What is your favorite memory/top moments in your time at West Point?JP: “My favorite moments include being elected as class president, beating Navy my plebe year, graduating from the U.S. Army Air Assault School, receiving my class ring, Branch and Post Night, and being selected to serve on the Brigade Staff as the S-4 (logistics officer).”PV: Do you feel you achieved all your goals at West Point?JP: “No. I have achieved great accomplishments and have met amazing classmates and instructors along the way. However, my one regret is that I didn’t take advantage of the coolest academic department’s (Social Sciences) summer AIADs. I would have loved to intern in the White House or on Capitol Hill during the summer.”PV: What is your best achievement at West Point?JP: “Being elected class president of the Class of 2020.”PV: Class of 2020 Class President … for you, what did that experience do to help your leadership skills?JP: “Being elected class president allowed me to truly grow as a leader. Speaking on behalf of 1,100 cadets is a huge responsibility and it’s challenging at times. However, it has allowed me to become a better public speaker, decision maker and planner.PV: What are a couple of interesting things that happened while being class president?JP: “As class president, I get to plan and participate in some of the most amazing events. Whether it’s being interviewed, meeting this country’s great U.S. Army leaders or giving speeches; all of my experiences have been breathtaking. The most memorable event was WPAOG Ring Melt Ceremony which, for the first time in its 20-year history, was held right here at West Point down in crest hall.”PV: Any one person you’d like to mention who helped your success/guided you the most at West Point?JP: “My father. John Phillips. I talked to him every day of my cadet career. He picked me up when I was feeling down and always told me how proud he was of me. That kept me going.”PV: Through this collective experience everyone has gone through, from your perspective, how has the Class of 2020 united together and motivated each other during the COVID-19 crisis?JP: “The Class of 2020 is uniquely resilient. These are unprecedented times. My classmates were there for not only each other, but the underclass cadets as well.“Those who served in key leadership positions did not ‘take a break,’ even though the corps was away from the academy. They continued to work hard and check in on each other, especially in terms of mental health. If that doesn’t prove how great this class is. I don’t know what does.”PV: What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the crisis? What did you find out about yourself and your resilience, whether it was physically or mentally, in overcoming this situation and driving toward graduation?JP: “The biggest hurdle I faced during this crisis was maintaining my academics. Online learning is no joke. It’s challenging and I had to make adjustments.“I learn the best when I am inside the classrooms where I can interact with the instructor and my classmates. The classroom is a warm environment and listening to a lecture pour out of a computer speaker system is a bit depressing. I found myself adapting to the new environment in ways I didn’t think possible. I remembered that my class doesn’t sit idly by when things go wrong. We adapt and overcome!”PV: What are you looking forward to the most when you return to West Point this week?JP: “I am most looking forward to the graduation events (award ceremony, graduation banquet, graduation day). My class has missed out on a lot and I am so grateful that the senior leaders at West Point felt strongly enough about giving us the experience that the class so, rightfully, deserves.”PV: Historically, similar to your last two months, this will be a unique graduation that no class previously has experienced, what is your hope and anticipation for your graduation day?JP: “My hope is that the ceremony resonates with my classmates. I hope that our graduation sends a message to the country and its citizens that the U.S. Army will always lead the way and rise up to any challenge the country faces. I trust the planning of the senior leaders and believe that this ceremony will be safe and memorable.”PV: Describe what tossing your hat in the air will mean to you, completing your journey at West Point?JP: “No experience can compare to having the First Captain give the historic command of ‘dismissed’ and throwing your hat into the air.“To me, that moment will symbolize the end of training at the U.S. Military Academy and the beginning of my service as an Army officer. I won’t simply be thinking about myself in this moment. I will be thinking about all of the people who helped me get to that very moment. This is their graduation, too. It takes a village.”PV: You went to USMAPS … how did that experience help you grow and prepare you for the academy?JP: “I had no exposure to the military before West Point. So, attending USMAPS was the best opportunity that I have ever been offered. I learned about the military, improved physically, got introduced to the academic rigors of West Point and made tons of friends whom I still hang out with to this day.”PV: Your branch choice … talk about why you went in the direction you did to serve in the branch you chose?JP: “I branched Armor and I couldn’t be happier. I decided to aim for this branch because I felt that it would be the most challenging and rewarding Army experience. The Armor branch has been coined: “The Combat Arm of Decision.” The demands of this branch will afford me the opportunity to learn the complexities of the battlefield and make timely decisions.”Class of 2020 Cadet Murray JohnstonPointer View: When it comes to your Class of 2020 motto, “With Vision We Lead,” what do those words mean to you?Murray Johnston: “Vision is all about seeing ahead. I see our class motto as a reference to our ability as a class to use the education we have been given to look ahead to, anticipate and begin solving the problems of the world, the Army and our Soldiers before they become issues.”PV: What does service and leadership mean to you as you start your career as an Army officer?MJ: “Service is the constant reminder that everyone in the Army is there by choice and that while it may have its practicalities, their ultimate reason for being there is a common thread of sacrifice and devotion to our country.“Leadership is harnessing that same energy and usefully directing it to make the Army and our nation better.”PV: What advice would you give to the underclassmen or to your younger self from four years ago with what you know now from your academy experience?MJ: “The time is always going to move too fast, that will not change. So, always taking the extra chance to spend time with your classmates and invest in your subordinates is worth it.”PV: What is your favorite memory/top moments in your time at West Point?MJ: “It would have to be something with the marathon team. We have taken numerous trips across the country and world to race, but one that still stands out is the team trip to race the Big Sur Marathon in California. The race atmosphere and quality of time spent with my teammates is unforgettable.”PV: Do you feel you achieved all your goals at West Point?MJ: “Yes, I had a great major, made incredible friends, got the branch I wanted and had the opportunity to be a part of an amazing club.”PV: What is your best achievement at West Point?MJ: “My capstone team won the Dean’s award for interdisciplinary research, which was special to me because of all the hurdles our team had to clear to still create a quality product while in isolation.“We did some amazing construction and flight testing as a team before our semester was cut short, but it was even more impressive to watch everyone transition to a simulation focus as we tried to finish the project from home.“We created an adaptive drone swarm with quick launching capabilities and rapidly interchangeable payloads for mission adjustment.”PV: What did it mean to you to earn the Dean’s Interdisciplinary Award honor?MJ: “It was a really nice validation of the work we put in as a team. There were so many late nights re-checking packing lists, configuring drones and debugging code that we were able to all grow together. That was only re-emphasized in the two live flight tests we did as a team with our full pack out.“When we learned we couldn’t do our final live test in South Carolina it was a big blow to the team, but to see them all come together and make some incredible simulation products to salvage our work was really amazing. Having the dean then come in and validate all of that hard work and readjustment was a very proud moment for us.”PV: Any one person you’d like to mention who helped your success/guided you the most at West Point?MJ: “There are several. Col. Jason Musteen from the history department has been an amazing mentor to me. Marathon OICs Maj. Kelly Calway, Maj. Matt Lensing and Capt. Sam Herbert have all really invested in my development.“On the cadet side, my fiancée, Kathyrn Hilbert from Co. A-3 has been by my side to support me every day since we met.”PV: Through this collective experience everyone has gone through, from your perspective, how has the Class of 2020 united together and motivated each other during the COVID-19 crisis?MJ: “It has mainly been through informal gatherings. My final project group for CY450 became a surprising source of community. We already had to meet regularly for class so we just built in time to relax and catch up around that and I was able to grow really close to a new group of people despite the distance.”PV: What was the biggest hurdle you faced during the crisis? What did you find out about yourself and your resilience, whether it was physically or mentally, in overcoming this situation and drive toward graduation?MJ: “The biggest hurdle for me was staying steady in the unknown. It is not too hard to get through a period when the end is known, but as schedules constantly shifted it became increasingly difficult to stay optimistic about plans staying the same and graduation happening in any form.“I found that my ability to isolate my own plans and thoughts from the actions and changes happening on the institution side allowed me to better support my classmates.”PV: What are you looking forward to the most when you return to West Point this week?MJ: “Seeing my company mates! We have met a few times over video calls but it isn’t the same as getting the wonderful rowdy crowd that is the F-2 Zoo back in one place face-to-face.”PV: Historically, similar to your last two months, this will be a unique graduation that no class previously has experienced, what is your hope and anticipation for your graduation day?MJ: “I am just looking forward to having the honor of concluding my West Point experience side-by-side with my classmates.”PV: Describe what tossing your hat in the air will mean to you, completing your journey at West Point?MJ: “Tossing our hats means the end of this period of intense focus and development but it is also the beginning of watching mentor and friend relations blossom as we begin to encounter the demands of the larger Army.”PV: How did you get involved in becoming a marathon runner?MJ: “I always loved running. It started with a 5K to support a friend’s dad who was going through chemotherapy and then evolved into a half-marathon when another family friend became sick. I ran cross-country all through high school but knew I was interested in trying to run marathons when I got to West Point.”PV: Talk about your best marathon performance/achievement at West Point?MJ: “My best performance I would have to reference my fastest race probably. At Richmond in the Fall of 2018, I ran my fastest race in 2:44. It was a unique race though because I was chasing someone I hadn’t planned on for the whole race. That someone was Kate Sanborn, our teammate who incredibly qualified for Olympic trials with her performance at that race.“For an achievement though, it would have to be assisting with and then hosting the Fallen Comrades Half-Marathon. We host the event each year to honor 13 graduates of the academy killed in the global war on terror. I had the privilege of running stadium ops last year and being chosen as race director for this year’s event.“Planning the whole event and then still pulling off a successful transition to a virtual event (with a ton of help from OIC Capt. Sam Herbert) was pretty special.”PV: Your branch choice … Talk about why you went in that direction to serve that branch?MJ: “I branched Infantry because I believe it is the truest experience of living and working with Soldiers. There is so much that depends on the physical, mental and emotional success of each member in a platoon and having the opportunity to try and mold and facilitate that is something I truly want to pursue.”