Ronan senior headed to West Point
RONAN — Ronan High School senior Shelby Grant has been admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Founded in 1802, West Point is located on the Hudson River in Upstate New York and is the oldest military academy in the United States. Every student receives a free education and a small salary while in attendance and, upon graduation, must complete five years of military service.
In 2012, less than 10 percent of applicants were accepted to the school. Grant can now proudly count himself among the lucky few to be given this opportunity. All applicants must be nominated by a member of Congress, and Grant was endorsed by Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.
“Montanans take pride in our state’s long and unbroken history of military service, and I’m pleased Shelby has chosen to join in that tradition,” Tester said in a press release. “All Montanans are proud of him and his family for their commitment to putting country first.”
Baucus echoed similar words of praise.
“A world-class work ethic and commitment to public service puts Shelby in a class of his own,” he said. “It’s great news that Shelby will be joining the inspiring tradition of Montanans who have attended our nation’s top military academies, and gone on to service their communities nobly.”
Grant said this is something he’s wanted since junior year. While he intended to enlist in the armed services after high school, Grant’s father suggested that he wouldn’t like being “just the bottom guy.”
“I didn’t really know what to do, and the armed forces seemed like a better life than sitting in college not doing anything,” Grant said. “I guess you could say I’ve always been an active person.”
That may be an understatement.
Grant plays football, wrestles and runs track and field for Ronan High School. On the wrestling mat, Grant qualified for the state tournament two years in a row and placed during both appearances. He is also the student body vice president.
Upon graduation, Grant would hold the rank of second lieutenant in the United States Army.
“I’m super excited,” Grant said. “I even skipped school after I found out so I could go celebrate.”
Grant’s celebration consisted of his girlfriend taking him out to an expensive dinner.
Baucus and Tester each nominated more than 30 Montana students to the nation’s military service academies. Nominations were based on a student’s academics, leadership, community service and participation in extracurricular activities.
Of the 60 Montanan students nominated by Tester and Baucus, so far only five have been accepted to military academies like West Point. Grant is one of them.
“It makes me feel pretty good,” Grant said with a laugh. “I kind of want to go fly now, just to see if I can do that.”
Grant leaves July 1 for Reception Day, when new students are welcomed to West Point. Grant said this day marks the moment when “we start our long, four-year journey.”