Niagara Gazette

Communities

June 30, 2014

NFHS grad first in city to attend West Point in 15 years

Niagara Gazette — Sean O’Brien remembers his surprise last summer when he spent a week at an immersion camp designed to let potential applicants get a sense of the West Point experience. Some of the other attendees had trouble accepting the barrage of yelling and dressing down that they experienced from camp leaders.

He remembers thinking, “So you get yelled at. It’s the military. Get used to it.”

That kind of stoicism and determination to endure has led to his acceptance into the freshman class at West Point Military Academy, as one of the first in the city over the past 15 years to be accepted at the academy.  

O’Brien, who graduated with his Niagara Falls High School class Saturday, will leave today to begin his summer session. Over the next four years he will train and study at that historic and prestigious military setting, undergoing rigorous training designed to test him at every level and make him a leader.

He can’t wait.

“I have always wanted to be in the Army,” said the 18-year-old. “Both my grandfathers and were in the military and they talk of it so fondly. They’re so proud of it.”

The road to acceptance hasn’t been easy. It required that he up the ante on his grades and extracurricular activities. He started taking advance classes at school, and played for the past six years on a regional soccer team. He also played with the high school soccer team, and led that team as captain this year.

O’Brien started hatching his plan to attend West Point in the eighth grade. He joined the board of the Niagara County Youth Bureau as one of two student members, working with other board members to decide and administer where money is spent on area youth programming.

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