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Students make choices to commit to military academies for higher education.

John+Kim+and+his+parents+stands+outside+the+Cadet+Chapel+at+USAFA.+Although+Kim+is+committed+to+West+Point%2C+he+visited+the+United+States+Air+Force+Academy+over+spring+break+this+year.++Photo+courtesy+of+John+Kim
John Kim and his parents stands outside the Cadet Chapel at USAFA. Although Kim is committed to West Point, he visited the United States Air Force Academy over spring break this year.  Photo courtesy of John Kim

John Kim and his parents stands outside the Cadet Chapel at USAFA. Although Kim is committed to West Point, he visited the United States Air Force Academy over spring break this year. Photo courtesy of John Kim

John Kim and his parents stands outside the Cadet Chapel at USAFA. Although Kim is committed to West Point, he visited the United States Air Force Academy over spring break this year. Photo courtesy of John Kim

Wesley Henshaw, Staff Writer

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Seniors John Kim and Kazu Gavin are taking a step towards a career in the Armed Forces as they both commit to the military academies West Point and the United States Air Force Academy, respectively. Gavin decided to forgo a standard university in favor of a military academy once an opportunity arose.

“I’ve always been interested in the military but I never had that proper bridge to go into it,” Gavin said.

Gavin, a member of the water polo team, received an email in November from USAFA’s water polo coach, who wanted Gavin to come play for their team. The coach’s invitation opened a door to the idea of attending the academy. Once he thought about the benefits of the college, Gavin accepted and began the preparation necessary for attending.

“This way, after I’m out of college, not only will I have a degree, but I’ll also have a job with the military as an officer,” Gavin said. “It’s like a jump-start on your career and you have a kind of guaranteed job.”

Gavin describes the preparation as rigorous. In addition to the standard application with essays and letters of recommendation, as well as a medical exam, he had to take something called the Cadet Fitness Assessment. The assessment made sure he was of an adequate fitness level going into the academy.

“It was hard for me because I’m a swimmer and I play water polo. I’m not used to running and doing push ups and sit ups and all of those other land activities,” Gavin said. ”I had three weeks and it was pretty rough, but I got through it.”

Kim describes his preparation experience as somewhat similar, also having a standard application, a medical exam, and high physical requirements. West Point and USAFA also require something different from a normal college.

“You have to get a congressional nomination, which is from one of your state senators or your local congressperson,” Kim said.
Kim was originally drawn to the Armed Forces by his parents a few years ago. After attending a week-long seminar at West Point over the summer, he became interested in the environment of West Point. Certain aspects of West Point appealed especially.

“There’s different values they have like leadership and an honor code,” Kim said.

When it comes to both colleges, they each have something special. Gavin appreciates USAFA for its balance of education and the military.

“It’s a good equilibrium from a normal college experience versus a full-on military experience. You have less freedoms than most universities and colleges but you have more than the standard military,” Gavin said. “It’s more academically rigorous than physical like the army.”

Admission into West Point is particularly difficult due to the prestige of the academy. The academy is the oldest, continuously occupied military post. The fort was established as an academy in 1802 by legislation from Thomas Jefferson. Over the years, West Point has seen famous figures such as Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D Eisenhower, Ulysses S Grant, Robert Lee, and Buzz Aldrin.

When it comes to the future, Kim is still somewhat undecided. He’d like to study engineering and apply that to real life situations. Gavin, on the other hand, wants to major in history and teach history somewhere after serving as a pilot in the Air Force.

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