How This West Point Cadet Made History

Simone Askew, the first African-American woman to be first captain at West Point.
Simone Askew is the first Black woman to be first captain at West Point. (U.S. Army photo)

Cadet Simone Askew was destined to be a leader. As a young girl, she watched as the Navy Midshipmen marched onto the football field and wanted to be in that same position of leadership.

Years later, she would march onto that field, but for the Army, solidifying her place in history as the first Black woman to earn the position of first captain, the highest-ranking student in the Corps of Cadets.

Her position of leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point is more than just leading her fellow students at the annual Army-Navy football game. As first captain, she is responsible for overseeing more than 4,000 students, setting expectations and an example for her fellow cadets -- all at just 20 years old.

Pat Walter Locke, the first Black woman to graduate from West Point, said in an interview with The New York Times, "Everybody can see themselves in Simone. This is such a historic moment," Locke said. Locke retired as an Army air defense artillery major in 1995 and commented that she never thought she would see a Black woman hold the position of first cadet.

Askew is driven and has a history of accomplishments academically, and in sports and volunteer work. As noted in The New York Times interview, she even missed her crowning as homecoming queen at her high school because she was attending a West Point recruiting event.

Askew is a senior at West Point, majoring in international studies, and was recently selected as a Rhodes Scholar. She'll spend 2-3 years studying at Oxford University in England for her postgraduate degree.

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