The Women of West Point
Women's History Month | United States Military Academy at West Point
[Originally Published March 24, 2022]
PART 1: The Women of West Point
[FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES | ] Few collegians work as hard as the U.S. Military Academy’s female cadets.
In the weeks leading up to the occasion [Graduation in 2014], the photographer Damon Winter of The New York Times followed [First Captain Lindsey] Danilack and several other female cadets — including the Efaws, three sisters in three separate classes in the same school year — to capture a sense of daily life for women at one of the nation’s elite educational institutions.
FULL ARTICLE: New York Times | The Women of West Point
DID YOU KNOW? Over 5,000 women have graduated from the United States Military Academy.
PART 2: One-Team | The Graduates
“I think it is a great place for women and any person of any background. We compete. My experience has been it’s the most inclusive, team-oriented organization that I could be a part of. I think that is a powerful message for America’s youth, particularly women.” - Maj. Gen. Diana Holland USMA ‘90
Jaster, Jebb, Hildreth, Holland, Baker, West and McClain…these are just a few names of the now nearly 6,000 women who have graduated from @USMA_westpoint Learn about their collective journeys in this @USArmy article from 2020.
FULL ARTICLE: 5000+ Women of the Long Gray Line
In early April West Point's Association of Graduates, in conjunction with West Point Women will host the West Point Women’s Conference - bringing together a community of graduates and cadets to celebrate 45+ years of West Point Women 🇺🇸
“Looking at the stars, I felt really connected to the Earth. We were being held in orbit by gravity and it was like I was a traveler of the universe and I could point to Earth and say that planet’s mine. It is pretty neat,” NASA Astronaut Anne McClain USMA ‘02
DID YOU KNOW? For the first time in Academy history there have been 3 consecutive female First Captains - Reilly McGinnis in 2020-2021, Holland Pratt in 2021-2022 and Lauren Drysdale in 2022-2023
PART 3: Possibility | Today's Cadets
I am honored to share each day with 44 strong-willed, resolute, confident, inspiring women. - Maddie Miller USMA '20
The first female First Captain was Kristin Baker in 1989. Since then 8 women have held the title of First Captain. Academic Year 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-2023 saw Reilly McGinnis, Holland Pratt and Lauren Drysdale lead the corps, respectfully, marking the first time in West Point's illustrious history that consecutive women were named the leader of the Corps of Cadets.
Additionally, this year (2022) 4 West Point Women were named Rhodes Scholars. The last time West Point had 4 Rhodes Scholars was back in 1959. Women wouldn't join the Corps for another 17 years.
READ MORE: 4 West Point Women Earn Rhodes Scholarship
Another key moment in shaping the current landscape of West Point was back on June 27, 2016. That day 282 female cadets arrived at West Point during a time of change. Not only were they the first class of women to enter knowing that upon graduation every career path would be an option for them, but their plebe year also marked the first time both the Commandant of Cadets and the Dean of the Academic Board were women.
Thanks to a change initiated by then Commandant (now Maj. Gen.) Holland, the female cadets in the Class of 2020 were the first to take boxing as part of the curriculum. Boxing had long been a required class for male cadets, but until 2016 it was one of the few parts of West Point that female cadets hadn’t been integrated into.
These factors along with access to Ranger School, the Infantry and Armor Branch have ushered in a new era of possibilities and career paths for today's West Point Women.
Below is an excerpt from West Point, To Thee by Maddie Miller a reflection on her time at West Point and playing Women's Lacrosse throughout this period of change...
I am thankful for the school to which lacrosse has ultimately brought me. Without lacrosse, I would not be at West Point. Lacrosse provided me with a career path which I am passionate about. One of selfless service and integrity. My experience on the women’s lacrosse team at West Point will soon transition to an experience on another team, the greatest team on Earth, the United States Army.
As a child, or even a young high school student, I could have never imagined myself as an officer in the U.S. Army. It was not until my sophomore year of high school that the idea of being a cadet at West Point germinated. When I went on my first recruiting visit in December of 2014, I was timid and hesitant. I had no clue about how daily life functioned at West Point, and I was even more clueless about the duties of an Army officer, to which I would have to commit five years of my life after graduation.
I was overwhelmed with the possibility of having a drastically different lifestyle than I had ever imagined. I had the misconception that at a military academy, everyone is robotic because they are all tactical experts who are flawless marksmen. Upon my visit, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cadets were not these automatons that I had imagined. In fact, the community of cadets comprises of a healthy demographic mix of a student body.
Moreover, I was shocked to see more women than I had imagined would be on post. I realized that cadets look just like many other college students around the country, besides the uniform and haircut standards. However, it is what people do not see that differentiated the cadets. These cadets were internally motivated, determined, courageous, and dedicated leaders working together ultimately for a purpose greater than themselves. I identified with this mindset. I wanted to be part of this culture and tradition. Two weeks after my visit, I verbally committed to study and play lacrosse at West Point.
I am honored to share each day with 44 strong-willed, resolute, confident, inspiring women.
FULL ARTICLE: West Point, To Thee by Maddie Miller
DID YOU KNOW? The first three women to graduate Ranger School were West Point Women.
PART 4: The Trailblazers
Through all the challenges, they had proved to themselves and the corps—which now in May 1980 had women in every class and company for the first time—that they belonged.
The first cadet graduated from West Point in 1802 and in the 178 years since, nearly 35,000 men had joined the Long Gray Line of academy graduates. Their names tell the story of America during those nearly two centuries. Grant, Lee, Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton and Aldrin all had donned the cadet gray before their Army careers.
Now, it was time for them to be joined by Andrea Hollen, Sue Fulton, Marene Nyberg, Pat Walker and 58 other women who were making their own kind of history, because as Nyberg-Allison’s roommate undoubtedly assured her on the bright sunny May day right before they walked to Michie Stadium, them graduating was not a dream...
FULL ARTICLE: Class of 1980 (circa 2020)
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Visit WestPoint.edu/admissions to apply to the U.S. Military Academy, or to learn more about what it takes to join the Long Gray Line and become a leader of character as a West Point Cadet.