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My Experiences at The United States Military Academy at West Point, NY

“In the smallest of nutshells, these are some experiences I have had so far at the United States Military Academy.”

One of the happiest moments in my life was receiving a phone call from Congresswoman Dina Titus congratulating me on my acceptance into the United States Military Academy at West Point. I immediately knew my life would never be the same… and I was right. A few months later I would find myself at cadet basic training constantly being yelled at to wake up at the ungodliest of hours in the early morning for physical training and various types of Army training that I would not come close to as a civilian.

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The United States Military Academy (West Point) was the school of my dreams and nowhere else could compare. This was the school of many presidents, astronauts, CEOs, and countless generals. ECTA had given me a good basis on how to communicate and effectively work with my peers. West Point, on the other hand, would condition me into an effective leader.

Initially, when I applied as a young high school senior at ECTA I didn’t get accepted, but with a few semesters of college under my belt, some experiences with UNLV’s ROTC program, and a lot of perseverance (I mean a lot), I reapplied two years later, and to my surprise, was finally accepted into USMA’s class of 2018. Now an academic sophomore, I plan to graduate in two more years and begin a career in the military as an Army officer.

Do I miss my family and friends? All the time.

Would I trade these experiences for anything else? Never.

Academics

One of the perks of attending a service academy is having everything from books, food, room and board, and tuition paid for by Uncle Sam. This isn’t just a free ride. After graduation the entire graduating class will commission and serve as active duty officers. With cadets unable to hold jobs to supplement income, West Point ensures that its cadets are always busy. Apart from having huge credit loads (21.5 this last semester for me. Yippee..) and all the work that it entails, there are plenty of things that are squeezed into our schedules. From intramural/club/varsity sports, parade drills, formal dinners, lectures from various people, etc., it seems the days are long and nothing short of challenging. I can recall a few weeks where my days started at 0645 and ended 0100 the next day. Fun times had by all.

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Military Training

If you’re wondering where all the jam-packed shooting and blow stuff-up action is in my life, it’s all in the summers. During these last few summers I’ve been given the opportunity to train with some high-speed, fancy technology. Whether it be from shooting weapon systems like rifles, machines guns, artillery or riding in helicopters and rapelling from one, some of the most memorable experiences I have ever had has been during field training. This upcoming summer, I will be a part of USMA’s three-week military training capstone, Cadet Leadership Development Training (CLDT) which utilizes all aspects of what I have learned these last few years and applies them into various real-world scenarios.

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Looking Onward

One of the things that have kept me sane throughout my time at the Academy is understanding where I want to be in the future and finding purpose in all the work that I do. One of my all-time favorite movie quotes actually comes from a movie Mr. Stewart usually shares with his debate classes, The Great Debaters: “We do what we have to in order to do what we want to do.”

If you currently know a Titan who would like more information about West Point or the process of getting into this school, please feel free to email me: Paulo.Almeida@usma.edu.

Paulo Almeida

Graduated from the class of 2012 in the Medical Program.

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