The U.S. Military Academy Class of 2020 graduated 1,113 members Saturday on the Plain. Those graduating represented 85% of the 1,302 cadets who entered West Point nearly four years ago.Due to COVID-19 delaying graduation, members of the class commissioned May 23 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, technically 48-month, journey.Over the last four weeks, The Pointer View series titled, “With Vision We Lead,” named after the class motto, involved 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 fourth and final installment of a four-part series of their journey in their own words ...Class of 2020 member Ashley LasiterPointer View: When it comes to your Class of 2020 motto, “With Vision We Lead,” what do those words mean to you?Ashley Lasiter: “I think ‘With Vision We Lead’ entails a sense of hope and optimism. Knowing my classmates, many of us aspire to create positive change and this drives how we will lead and serve others.”PV: What does service and leadership mean to you as you start your career as an Army officer?AL: “West Point has made me realize that being a leader of character relies on having a foundation of humility, selflessness and empathy. Being a leader of character involves transforming your vulnerabilities and weaknesses into strengths and reflecting on how you—personally, uniquely and genuinely—can support and motivate others. I am honored to be a part of a team with a history of serving others and changing the world.”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?AL: “There comes a point when taking the extra time to ‘study’ forces you to sacrifice more meaningful connections and experiences. I have met so many incredible people through West Point, and I wish I had begun my cadet career dedicating more time to building these friendships earlier. If you are ever presented with a new opportunity to grow, even if you do not know much about it or it sounds scary, say yes. Do not be afraid to ask others for help along the way.”PV: What is your favorite memory/top moments in your time at West Point?AL: “One of my favorite memories at West Point is Branch Night. It was exciting to open my envelope, not just to find out my branch, but because it felt like my entire time at West Point was culminating into something even bigger. Everything my classmates and I had experienced up to that point rushed to my head, and it felt incredible to see everyone get excited for a future that felt much closer.“Other top moments include Ring Weekend and other class weekends, studying abroad in Morocco and bonding with my company mates and CLDT platoon.”PV: You branched military intelligence … why did you choose to serve in MI?AL: “I have always been fascinated by what happens behind the scenes and how information drives decision making. Entering West Point initially, I imagined being a Military Intelligence officer would be like solving puzzles continuously—gathering information, filling in the gaps and identifying the meaning and significance.“As my cadet career progressed, I met more Military Intelligence officers; I admire several officers I have met during my time at West Point, but I found myself drawn especially to MI officers and wanted to emulate them. They make decisions that have transcending, significant effects and I want to be a part of that decision-making process. ”PV: How exciting was it to earn the Anna Sobol-Levy scholarship?AL: “I was extremely excited when I found out I earned the Anna Sobol-Levy scholarship, and I am still extremely excited as I prepare for graduation and attending the program.“It felt gratifying to find out I was accepted, and I am honored to have the unique opportunity to attend a graduate program after graduation and to study immersed in Israel.”PV: Do you feel you achieved all your goals at West Point?AL: “I arrived at West Point with different goals than many of the ones I finished with during my firstie year. Sometimes goals evolve and change. If anything, the current circumstances have made me wish I had spent more time with my company mates and friends while at West Point.”PV: What is your best achievement at West Point?AL: “One random evening of firstie year, I was chatting with another friend when an underclassman joined and chatted with us. Eventually, he brought up the Mounger Writing Center because he had to conduct research for a term paper in the Introduction to Pedagogy class— which is required for all writing fellows. When I told him I was a Senior Writing Fellow and started discussing my own term paper from semesters ago, he told me he already knew about it.“Apparently, many of the sources I used for my research paper are now required reading for incoming cohorts of writing fellows. To see that my individual interests and efforts have inspired other cadets and have made a lasting impact on future classes is something I am proud to have accomplished.”PV: Any one person you’d like to mention who helped your success/guided you the most at West Point?AL: “Several people helped guide me throughout my time at West Point. I want to especially thank the Arabic instructors of the Department of Foreign Languages, the faculty of the Mounger Writing Center, the Graduate Scholarship Program and all of the English instructors I have had for pushing me beyond my comfort zone and teaching me to think creatively and empathetically.”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?AL: “I think this time apart has made many of us realize how grateful we are to have the friendships and experiences West Point has brought us. It has become even more important to check up on friends and classmates while learning in the remote environment. I know my company and several other companies have frequently gathered together to chat and stay connected during this time. This has been a unique experience, but it helps that we still have our friends and classmates to encourage one another.”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?AL: “I think for many of us, since plebe year and perhaps even earlier than that, we have envisioned our firstie year and graduation to be a certain traditional way. Our graduation and firstie year experiences have obviously changed and are different and unique, which was initially upsetting to me. However, given the circumstances, it is understandable that we have to sacrifice these expectations and traditions.“There are many people in our country and throughout the world sacrificing more than I am during this time. It was humbling to have a graduation ceremony at all and I was excited to reunite with my classmates as we prepared to graduate and commission as second lieutenants.”PV: Describe what tossing your hat in the air meant to you, completing your journey at West Point?AL: “When I was younger, I had only read about West Point and its graduates; I did not imagine myself becoming one of them ... I did not get accepted into West Point the first time I had applied, and I was skeptical of what I could achieve if I tried applying again.“Tossing my hat in the air and completing my journey at West Point serves as a reminder to never give up and always try again for what I believe in.”PV: Talk about your experiences abroad teaching English to Moroccan students and volunteering at a refugee camp in Greece, how do these experiences guide you to having a bigger influence in the future in helping people?AL: “The experiences I have had abroad, in Morocco and Greece particularly, have broadened my understanding of several contemporary issues. Reading an article or watching a video online from afar can make any issue seem distant or impersonal.“Connecting to people who have been impacted by these issues makes the issues seem more urgent. It is so important to go beyond your comfort zone and to connect with others who have experiences different than your own.“Any goal of helping people on a global scale should begin with helping individual people at a personal level.”Class of 2020 member Nicholas CunninghamPointer View: When it comes to your Class of 2020 motto, “With Vision We Lead,” what do those words mean to you?Nicholas Cunningham: “Our class motto is a great reminder to not take yourself too seriously. I know some of my classmates wished our motto did not include a pun, but I appreciate the humor. There will be plenty of opportunities to be serious throughout our careers in the Army and I think there is tremendous value in keeping a bit of levity.”PV: What does service and leadership mean to you as you start your career as an Army officer?NC: “Service and leadership are two points of emphasis for the servant-leader model—a paradigm that I want to follow throughout my Army career. A servant-leader recognizes that he or she is not working for the benefit of himself or herself. Instead, a servant-leader works for the benefit of the organization.”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?NC: “Resist the temptation to ‘coast.’ You can get by at West Point doing the bare minimum but you will have wasted the experience. There are numerous opportunities for extracurricular development that often go unutilized because some are not interested in maximizing the West Point experience.“I saw this most frequently with AIADs—there are so many opportunities for new experiences that go wasted because some would rather go home for the summer.”PV: What is your favorite memory/top moments in your time at West Point?NC: “Some of my favorite memories have been with the Cyber Policy Team. In 2019, we traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for a competition (the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge). We spent five days in Geneva and nearly every night was sleepless because we kept arguing about the best policy to present for the competition.“Eventually, we pulled together as a team and ended up winning the competition. The win was extra satisfying because of how much work the team put into winning.”PV: Do you feel you achieved all your goals at West Point?NC: “No. There are a few goals that I did not achieve. For example, I set a goal for myself to earn a technical scholarship to attend graduate school after West Point but came up short in the end. I was disappointed in not achieving this goal—I found out recently about the outcome of the selection—but the process itself was very developmental and I ended up achieving a few smaller goals along the way.“I have been reminded to learn from the failures, celebrate the successes and then keep moving forward.”PV: What is your best achievement at West Point?NC: “I would say graduation by itself is my best achievement.”PV: Any one person you’d like to mention who helped your success/guided you the most at West Point?NC: “There are a few people that have guided me throughout West Point—Lt. Col. Kevin Cummiskey, Lt. Col. Andrew Lee, Lt. Col. Tim Sikora, Col. Krista Watts, Col. Joseph Lindquist—to name a few. I also need to give a shout out my MA104 instructor Maj. Scott Warnke. Warnke convinced me to major in Math. This is funny because I hated math in high school but he convinced me otherwise.”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?NC: “I appreciated how my classmates still took an active interest in class despite the environment. I think it would have been easy for everyone to have just complained about the circumstances and checked out for the rest of the semester.”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?NC: “Uncertainty is a significant hurdle. Many of us are no longer certain of our timelines after West Point. However, I have learned that being resilient against uncertainty means being flexible and focusing on what I can control rather than focusing on externalities.”PV: Describe what tossing your hat in the air meant to you, completing your journey at West Point?NC: “I am very happy to move on to the next chapter in my life.”PV: You are prior service … how did that experience shape your time at the academy? What MOS were you?NC: “I was an 11B (Infantryman) in the Florida Army National Guard. I enlisted because I got rejection letters from nearly every college—my high school career was less than stellar. My enlisted experience helped give me a confidence that has carried me through my time at West Point.”PV: You branched infantry … why did you choose to serve in the infantry?NC: “I wanted to branch Cyber originally.However, Cyber ranked me low in their preference. I knew that I would enjoy a career in the infantry given my prior experience.”PV: I was told you are an accomplished academic … what drives you when it comes to learning?NC: “I try to seek opportunities to challenge myself. Academics is another means to do so.”PV: When your class got back, you had classes on educating future platoon leaders on the COVID-19 environment … thoughts about having to be even more flexible in close quarters in a unit environment due to COVID-19?NC: “In a recent news conference, (Army Chief of Staff) Gen. McConville stated, ‘we can’t telecommute to combat.’ I think this statement also carries to training—we cannot simulate a squad live-fire exercise.“However, we also cannot recklessly expose Soldiers to infection. Consequently, we will take a hard look at what it means for ‘training to standard’ when many leaders are ‘training to time’ and thereby creating a risk of exposure to Soldiers.”Class of 2020 member Mary CerbonePV: What does service and leadership mean to you as you start your career as an Army officer?Mary Cerbone: “Service and leadership mean a dedication to the values of the United States. To me, it means striving to be a better person every day and knowing that I owe it to my subordinates, my peers and this country, to be the best possible version of myself.”PV: Any one person you’d like to mention who helped your success/guided you the most at West Point?MC: “Dr. Robert Person, my academic mentor and first SOSH instructor, has been the biggest motivating presence during my cadet career.“He believed that I could accomplish more than I thought possible and encouraged me to apply for broadening experiences and internships. He supported my decision to write a thesis and pursue a graduate degree scholarship, both of which are my most notable achievements as a cadet.“Dr. Person represents the best of West Point’s faculty, which prides itself on pushing cadets to reach their limits and follow their dreams.”PV: You earned the Fulbright Taiwan scholarship … how excited were you to achieve that scholarship and what do you hope to achieve with it?MC: “Receiving the opportunity to study for two years in Taiwan is beyond belief, and I am extremely excited to continue pursuing my academic interests in China’s political economy in an immersive environment.“Taiwan is such an exceptional place to study the politics of China because of their unique place in the world, and I look forward to continuing my studies through the Fulbright program.“I hope to further develop my Chinese language skills during my time abroad and gain a perspective into Asian society and politics that will enhance my role as an intelligence officer in the Army. ”PV: You branched military intelligence … why did you choose to serve in MI?MC: “I find the mission of the intelligence community very noble and appealing. I first became interested in the branch because of the many instructors from the MI branch that I looked up to, and after interning at the Defense Intelligence Agency during one of my cadet summers, I knew that I wanted to be an intelligence officer.“The dedication of the people I worked with at the DIA to their role in supporting the U.S. Military’s mission was very inspiring and solidified my choice to pursue MI as my branch.”PV: When your class got back, you had classes on educating future platoon leaders on the COVID-19 environment … thoughts about having to be even more flexible in close quarters in a unit environment due to COVID-19?MC: “As officers, we will need to lead through many different challenges, and training on the COVID-19 environment can only add to our preparedness. The challenges brought by COVID-19 only highlight the necessity for the Army to maintain flexibility and adapt to rapid and unexpected changes.“As future leaders, we will need to be able to maintain unit readiness even in situations of great uncertainty and do the best we can with the resources given.”Class of 2020 member Ruth TalbottPointer View: When it comes to your Class of 2020 motto, “With Vision We Lead,” what do those words mean to you?Ruth Talbott: “For me, ‘With Vision We Lead’ means leading with the bigger picture in mind, leading with the future of my Soldiers, my family and my country at the forefront.PV: What does service and leadership mean to you as you start your career as an Army officer?RT: “Service to me means putting the needs of others before myself, always. As a leader, this means putting in the effort to understand people as individuals and what they can contribute to the organization. This means putting my own needs aside to help another, regardless of status or rank. This means creating an environment where all involved are motivated to accomplish the mission while looking out for their brothers and sisters to their left and right.”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?RT: “If I had one thing to say to my former self, it would be this: don’t wish your time away. Don’t wish that it was the end of the year, the end of the semester, the end of the week. Before you know it, your time at the academy will be over. You won’t have any more spontaneous hallway hangouts with your staff. You won’t go on any more coffee runs to 2 Alices. You won’t be able to walk a couple doors down to your friends for a quick chat to say hello.“Before you know it, the people you love will be spread out all over the world and you’ll only be reunited, all together again, sporadically for the rest of your life. Enjoy the time you have and embrace the suck. Lean on your friends and family when times get tough but if you start wishing the time away, you start wishing the time with your people away.”PV: What is your favorite memory/top moments in your time at West Point?RT: “One of my favorite memories was being with my team during our Rugby NCAA Semifinal match against Quinnipiac University this past fall. This team used to be one of our biggest rivals but as our team became better and better, their ability to threaten us weakened. I wasn’t rostered for that game, so I patrolled the sidelines, checking in with the players, filling up water and riling up the fans.“The feeling on that field was electric. Our home crowd was huge: the Superintendent came with the Secretary of the Army; the First Captain brought the Brigade Staff; sponsors and classmates and family members filled the stands and the sides of the field.“Every run, every big hit, every score brought a roar from the crowd that sent spikes of adrenaline through players and fans alike. By the end of a grueling 80 minutes, we won 54-10 and the feeling was euphoric.“We felt like we were on top of the world and being there, celebrating with my teammates, classmates and fans was one of my top moments at the academy.”PV: You were a corps squad rugby player … talk about that experience?RT: “I had never played rugby before coming to West Point. I just knew that I was too aggressive for women’s lacrosse in high school and decided to channel my passions into a different sport. Though I honestly don’t know how I made the team—I’m not very coordinated or fast—I learned very quickly that this sport had everything I loved. It was fast, it was rough, it was aggressive.“Every step on the pitch, every hit, every pass, every score was electrifying. Both on and off the pitch, being on the rugby team taught me what it really means to put others before myself. Against any opponent, my teammates were, quite literally, putting their bodies on the line for me and, in return, I did the same. We trusted each other, played for each other, sacrificed for each other. We all played for the love of the game and the love we had for each other.”PV: Do you feel you achieved all your goals at West Point?RT: “I would say that I don’t feel as though I achieved all my academic or physical goals. However, given the relationships I will carry with me beyond USMA, I would say that I’m leaving in a place where I feel comfortable moving on to my next phase of military life.”PV: What is your best achievement at West Point?RT: “My best achievement at West Point, quite honestly, was cultivating a relationship with my Little through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). BBBS matches cadets (Bigs) with students at Highland Falls Intermediate School (Littles). Through weekly meetups at the school and monthly weekend events, Bigs and Littles cultivate relationships based on mentorship and fun.“My Little, Daneah, and I were matched in fall 2017 and we hit it off right away. On our first day of the program, we went out to the HFIS playground and talked for almost an hour after having never met each other. Almost three years later, I can say without a doubt that she is one of the highlights of my time at West Point and one of my best achievements—one of the greatest opportunities, I would say—was being her Big.PV: Any one person you’d like to mention who helped your success/guided you the most at West Point?RT: “To be honest, I can’t. If I tried to list the people that have impacted me during these four years, the list would fill pages and because each person was so individually impactful, it would be a disservice to mention just one or two. If I will say anything to anyone reading who knows me, well or not, thank you. Thank you for your willingness to pour into me and help shape me into who I am today.”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?RT: “For me, it was the lack of structure and pressure. Because I’ve grown used to conforming to a tight schedule, I tend to do well with the structure of classes and practice.“At home, I had to discipline myself to get my work done and, as I’m already a master procrastinator, I fell deeper and deeper into the procrastination trap, leading to more pressure and less time to get my work done. Somehow, even with more time, I always found myself with less time!”PV: Describe what tossing your hat in the air meant to you, completing your journey at West Point?RT: “To me, tossing my hat means continuing a legacy. My grandfather always called military service ‘the family business’ and upon throwing that white cover in the air, I will be a third generation servicemember.“My grandfather served in the Army in Vietnam and Germany and my dad, a 1994 USMA grad, served for over 20 years, including multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. My family’s service to the nation fills me with great pride. Knowing that I am about to follow in the footsteps of such great men motivates me to serve with courage and honor.”PV: What was your job as part of the regimental staff? Describe how that job may help you as a leader going forward?RT: “For the last year, I’ve been the Fourth Regiment executive officer. I am the second-in-command for the more than 1,100 cadets in Fourth Regiment and am the manager of the Regimental Staff. With the staff and the Regimental S3, Isaac Ferrell, we ensure that Fourth Regiment is running smoothly and completing tasks, executing training and conducting day-to-day activities to standard.“I also work with my Regimental Commander, Dion Perinon, and Regimental Command Sergeant Major, Maddie Burns, to do everything we can to make Fourth Regiment the best Regiment in the Brigade.“As my dad likes to say, the XO is the one that “gets stuff done.” Boy, did I learn this during this last year. I learned to work with people across all echelons, anticipate the needs of my Command Team and my TAC officers. I learned the difference between simply managing my team of cadets and leading them to accomplish the mission. Most importantly, though, I created relationships with cadets on my staff that I hope will last a long time as we enter into the Big Army.”