Jackson Pepe holding his Certificate of Appointment to the United States Military Academy West Point.

By Jasmine Haroun

Jackson Pepe, a high school senior at Bloomingdale High School, recently learned he had been accepted into the prestigious Military Academy at West Point in New York. His start date was July 1.

“I am so excited and proud that I get to serve my country and congressional district,” Pepe said.

Before the summer of his Junior year, Pepe did not have a clear idea of his plans after high school. It was not until a trip to Washington D.C., with his family that he visited the Naval Academy and later the West Point Academy campus.

Getting into West Point is no easy feat; in fact, only 10 percent of applicants get accepted. Pepe is athletic (played lacrosse), musically talented (drumline) and active at his school (class president), but that was not enough; he also had to secure a nomination from a congressional candidate to be accepted. That nomination came from Dennis Ross, a former representative of Florida.

In school, Pepe always knew he had an affinity for math, which is why he is pursuing a civil engineering degree like his grandfather. As a child, Pepe heard many stories about his grandfather, Alexander Pepe, who was drafted into the military to serve in World War II. Even though they had never met, he heard many stories about his duty, valor and courage.

One story that resonates with Jackson Pepe is how his grandfather received the Purple Heart Medal of Honor. It began one day during World War II when a platoon was wiped out in the field and Alexander Pepe was called to the front line. His group was crossing a river when the Japanese ambushed them, and he ended up taking a bullet straight through his arm. Unfortunately, most of his remaining group was wiped out that same day.

“Hearing those stories as a child definitely, directly and indirectly, influenced me to go into the military,” said Jackson Pepe.

After graduating, Pepe will serve in the military for five years. As of now, he is thinking of going into military intelligence after serving his country.

“I am very excited but also nervous at the same time,” he explained.

West Point was founded in 1802 as America’s first college of engineering. Today, it continues to be ‘one of our nation’s premier leader-development institutions.’

It is located 50 miles north of New York City in West Point, NY. For more information, visit www.westpoint.edu.