Despite enjoying the academic journey the U.S. Military Academy provides, cadets are always faced with difficult trials when navigating the education system of West Point. Whether it’s dealing with COVID-19, family emergencies or other issues that stagnate the process leading to graduation, the remaining 21 Class of 2020 cadets showed resiliency and courage as they made their way to Robinson Auditorium in Thayer Hall to participate in their graduation ceremony on Dec. 10.
“We are proud of you all who have successfully completed the challenging leader development program that West Point delivers and you have much to be proud of as today’s ceremony is a fitting end to years of physical, intellectual, military and character development,” Brig. Gen. Cindy R. Jebb, the 14th Dean of the Academic Board, said as she gave her speech to the graduating class. “I know your journey here was not easy and you were uncertain at times as to whether you should be sitting here today, but you persevered.”
For Class of 2020 Cadet Kellyen Walker, the challenge West Point presented tested his will and mental fortitude. The difficult experiences he faced cultivated his mental strength and he looks forward to using the knowledge of his experiences in the Army.
“I’m extremely proud. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity — especially for people who come from unfortunate situations like myself, so this is a great moment in my life,” Walker said. “It’s overwhelming. I can’t believe it’s finally here, but I’m excited — I’m excited for my classmates, I’m excited for myself. These are tremendous men and women and I know it’s going to be a great journey after this.”
Class of 2020 Cadet Alexis Jane Frederick felt complete relief and happiness in finally joining the officer ranks.
“It’s been so long that we’ve been waiting for this day forever and you never really knew that it was going to happen until you got the diploma right in your hand — this feels pretty surreal.”
The West Point Band Played Christmas jingles and the audience cheered as cadets were called up to the stage — one after the other — to receive the diplomas. Afterward, the cadets took their Oath of Office, followed by the band playing the Army song.
“On behalf of the Superintendent and everyone gathered here, we want to wish you best wishes as you go on to the next journey,” Jebb said. “But before we let you go, we must acknowledge the historic game happening on Saturday so for one last time — Class of 2020, Go Army!”
“Outsmart Navy,” the Class of 2020 cadets responded as they threw their covers up to the ceiling and embraced each other in jubilation and rejoiced in finally overcoming their academic journey at West Point and are now second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.