JHON C. Mendoza’s dream of joining the military came true when he was recently accepted at West Point, the U.S. Military Academy.
Mendoza, a Fil Am and graduating student from Marianas High School, will be a member of the Class of 2022. He learned of his acceptance to America’s premier military school last April.
“It was always my dream to serve the country because I have always been getting so many opportunities and I want help the country that helps me,” he replied when asked why he wanted to join the military.
Mendoza recalled that his parents were against him entering military service and instead persuaded him to go to college.
“So I ended my dream.”
But when Mendoza attended a Close Up workshop in Washington D.C. last year, he was able to talk to U.S. Cong. Gregorio Kilili Sablan who rekindled his desire to serve with the military by informing him that he can achieve both his dreams – to be in the military and attend college – if he went to service academy.
“He told me about the West Point and how prestigious it is. He talked to me about it and got his support. This solidified my passion for wanting to go to West Point,” he said.
Mendoza recounted the process he went through to be accepted at the military academy. He thanked Kilili for nominating him last January.
“The first thing is you have to receive a nomination from your congressman, U.S. Cong. Kilili Sablan. I had to turn in my application.”
He said the second part of the process was more challenging to him because he had to pass the candidate fitness assessment – a physical test.
“They really have high standard for physical fitness test. I actually failed the first time. After a lot of training for a few weeks, I passed the second try.”
According to Mendoza, it was the third process that was easier -pass the medical.
“We don’t really have the military medical facilities for West Point here so I have to travel to Guam to do it. That was the only easy process in the application.”
He received the news of his acceptance through electronic mail. He wanted to keep it from his parents until he received his acceptance letter.
“When I found out the news I told my sisters to be quiet. But my sister ended up mentioning it to my mom by accident,” he said.
Finally, when he got the ‘book of acceptance’ from the West Point, he told his parents about it,
“My mom, who already knew about it, was crying. I was emotional too because I was thinking that they didn’t have to worry about how were they going to pay for my college.”
His father, who works at Fiesta Resort, and his mother, who helps in her cousin’s family business, were both immigrants from the Philippines. They told him that they are proud of him.
“For them, and for me, West Point is really a big name. I am really excited. I always wanted to serve in the military,” he said.
Mendoza was accepted to West Point under the nuclear engineering program.
“I was told by a friend, who will be graduating at West Point, freshmen will have an entire week to see all the different major and what they want to study before they decide.”
He said he was more interested in the energy concept because he wanted to help in finding different energy source for the CNMI.
“One of the biggest reasons why I chose nuclear engineering is because I know Saipan imports 23 million gallons of diesel fuel and I want to find a way and help us not to rely on fossil fuel so much,” he said.
Mendoza admitted that he sometimes felt scared that he might not be able to match up the physical training at West Point.
“I have been asking a lot of people from the military academy, asking them tips how I I can survive my first year. They said ‘fight through it, be strong.’ It is more of a mental game than really is a physical game.”
According to Mendoza, West Point wanted to see their applicants in holistic way – his education, his involvement in the community and his leadership.
He submitted three essays where he discussed about himself being the first-generation American in the family. His aspiration to join the military came from the many opportunities he has and he wanted give back by serving the country.
He also wrote about his experience when he was in 6th grade, standing up to a stranger who was being bullied.
“I got into a fight because some bullies were attacking this stranger and I wanted to help out the stranger. I defended him, I lost. But at least I defended. Even though he was different from me, even though I don’t know him, I could recognized that he was getting bullied and what was happening in front of me was wrong,” he said, as he wanted to emphasize in his essay that he can work with different people and help solve the problem. (RONDA Balita Online News)