Kristina Hughes: West Point Bound!

Lauren Lieb

For someone who wasn’t always sure that she wanted to go to a military school, Kristina Hughes is faring pretty well. “My dad went to West Point and my whole family did ROTC at Penn State and military has always been in our life, but I kinda rejected it like ‘no I don’t want to do that,’” Kristina Hughes, senior, said. “I mean being the youngest sibling out of five children is like, you want to reject everything that they all did, but I mean eventually I was kinda just like “‘no this is nice’” and then we visited and just like the work ethic there, and just the people there and the environment, I was like I definitely want to be apart of this,” Hughes said “There were other schools I was considering but there wasn’t really one that stood out as something I actually wanted to do. I mean there was Penn State, which is always a good option and all my siblings went there except one of them and they all really really enjoyed it and they were like ‘you have to come here, it’s amazing, ahhh!’ but then I applied to Hawaii just to get in to Hawaii, because I thought that was kinda funny, and I applied to Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University of Florida.”

Hughes said, “Those were the only other schools I applied to because by the time I started my applications I got a letter of assurance that basically [means] you’re academically accepted and you just have to do x,y,z and you’re in, so I was kinda like ‘yeah I’m done applying,’”  

Finding out you’ve gotten accepted to college is a big deal, let alone getting accepted to West Point. “It’s kinda funny, I was thinking about it yesterday and I laughed, I was like ‘I’m such a dork’” Hughes continued.  “But I had gotten home, my Dad still hadn’t gotten home from work, so I was home alone, just chillin you know, nonchalantly checking my email like I do after school every day and then I saw it and I kinda looked at it and squinted and then I just paused and I was like ‘Is that what I think it is???’ And it took a few seconds and I dropped my phone, and then I screamed, and I screamed so loud, and I started jumping up and down and then when I calmed down I started crying and I was like ‘This is so great’ and then I called all my friends…but yeah, it was a funny day,”  

Her reaction makes sense. West Point, also known as the United States Military Academy, or USMA for short, is the most elite Military Academy in the world. “West Point is one of the more selective military academies…One unique aspect of West Point is the importance of leadership skills and experiences for applicants. Admissions officers value extensive experience and leadership in a single activity or sport rather than an eclectic mix of many extracurricular experiences,” says Paul Brigman, a counselor at State High. West Point only accepts 10% of applicant, “compared to the 50% of applicants from Penn State,” Brigman said“This is comparable to most Ivy league institutes in terms of competitiveness,”

It was founded in 1802, and famous alumni include Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant, who are both former U.S Presidents. Located in West Point, New York, students, or cadets as they are called, learn to live in a disciplinary environment (and yes they do wear uniforms). In return for their education being fully funded, cadets are “expected to serve a 5 year service in the U.S. military following graduation from your college program,” Brigman said.

Their average day follows a rigorous eighteen hour schedule that involves not only classes, but also military duties, physical education, and a required sport.  But Kristina’s biggest challenge isn’t military duties or making the grade. For her it’s sleep. “After talking to a lot of the cadets there… they often talk about the lack of sleep they get …so that’s the one thing I’m very, very afraid of because I maintain a very good sleep schedule every night and it’s when I don’t get sleep that I just immediately shut off and I have bad days, so I’m very nervous for that,”  But she’s not letting that put her off. She said “I’m very, very excited to be part of that comradery and not just that school spirit, but like the duty, honor country and all that stuff, I’m very excited for that.”
West point offers majors in social sciences, english, philosophy, chemistry, life sciences, engineering, and many more. “I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I really like space, so I’m probably going to do space, science and astrophysics if I can but if I want something that can be more directly applied, that I think I’m a better fit for that, I want to do aeronautical engineering, I think, we’ll see when I get there,” Hughes said.


Kristina isn’t the only one who has applied to a military school. Nathaniel Dutt and Esther Seeland, both seniors, are also applying. If you are considering going to a military school then you should note that taking Advanced and AP classes can help you “But earning good grades and demonstrating passion and work ethic is essential.” Brigman said. “Applicants must demonstrate an ability to take on demanding physical challenges and activities as part of their college experience. So, involvement in athletics and physical education classes during high school is also important for those seeking consideration at these schools,” If you are interested in going to a military school, start talking to your counselor right away. They can help you figure out what classes you want to take and can guide you toward programs and extracurricular activities that could help you get into a military school that you love. As Hughes said “Do everything you can, I would say. There is some theory out there that you have to start focusing on one thing when you get to high school, and only focus on one thing, but they want people at their military academies that can do all kinds of things… also you should definitely start applying early and talk to people. There are a lot of people in this town that graduated from a military academy, or had influence from a military academy, they were very very helpful, my dad especially, he was very helpful, he knew a lot of people here,”  And Kristina should know, she is going to West Point, after all.

Everyone needs to let loose once in a while, and that’s exactly what senior Kristina Hughes and her bandmates did at their master class with Chris Farmer. Here Hughes, (second from left), sings with her bandmates, Emily Lieb, senior, Sean Cunningham, junior, and Ezra Raupach-Lear, junior. “I’m still debating whether or not I want to do lacrosse, or the glee club when I get there [West Point], but both are high priority, I’ve been talking with the lacrosse coaches and it seems like a positive group for me to take, but I also really like music. It’s a big conflict but whatever I do I’ll be happy” said Hughes.