What Makes an Officer

What are the most important qualities in becoming a successful USMA cadet and a successful Army officer?

The path to becoming a successful USMA cadet and Army officer must start before being admitted to the Academy. A potential cadet has to prepare by taking rigorous courses in high school and being successful in them. My class load, which includes many AP and honors classes, is rigorous. The academic challenge has prepared me for the difficulty and workload of a high caliber institution like the USMA. My success in these classes also proves that I can thrive in an competitive environment. However, becoming a successful USMA cadet requires more than dedication to one’s studies. A cadet must have an outstanding leadership base to build on while at the Academy. Leaders take the initiative to coordinate and empower others to accomplish any task, whether it is by example, authority, or both. During high school, potential cadets can develop their leadership skills in class, sports, clubs, and community service. For me, the golf team has been a great way for me to grow as a leader. My first opportunity to lead occurred in my sophomore year when a shy freshman joined the golf team to make friends. At first, my teammates thought it was odd that I was trying to befriend the freshman, but over time when I brought my new friend in with the team, everyone realized how fun he was. In a single season I helped him go from being an outcast to one of the most friendly and outgoing guys on the team. I wanted to demonstrate that a united team is more powerful than a group of individuals. As a senior, I still make an effort to get to know the new freshmen on the team, but my role now includes setting a good example and keeping the whole team focused on our goals. As a leader, I know that the team will be more successful when we work as one cohesive group. An Army officer needs to realize the importance of teamwork and act in the best interest of the team by organizing, disciplining, rewarding, and pushing every member of the group to do his or her best. The first step to being a successful cadet is preparation; the second is devotion. The U.S. Army deserves the best officers in the world, and the ambition to succeed is necessary for USMA cadets to become worthy officers of the Army. Work ethic and discipline are critical for a cadet. Even when a cadet triumphs, he or she must know that the work is not over and push to become even better, whether it is in the classroom, in leadership positions, or in physical training. Cadets must also be aware that their priority is to serve their country, not to merely earn a salary. As an Army officer, serving my country is a reward a normal paying job can never give me. The Academy life is challenging but I am prepared to work hard for success, and I have the dedication to become an elite Army officer.

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