Summit High graduate, CMC student accepted to West Point |

Summit High graduate, CMC student accepted to West Point

Summit County native and former Colorado Mountain College student Stuart Vanderkooi (left) received his recommendation letter to the U.S. Military Academy from Rep. Jared Polis.

Persistence and hard work paid off for a 2010 Summit High School graduate and recent Colorado Mountain College student who recently accepted a n appointment to attend the U.S. Military Academy in New York.

Incoming West Point student Stuart Vanderkooi said his second try at admission – his participation in extracurricular and volunteer activities, his completion of higher-level classes in high school and college, and family and local support – were keys to his success. Vanderkooi will start his four-year, fully funded education at West Point in late June with plans to major in physics or history.

“I waited for a while, but it was worth the persistence,” Vanderkooi, 18, said of his admission. “It was great having a local college, someplace where I could keep working and be close to school.”

Vanderkooi is a lifelong Summit County resident who currently works as a snow bike guide at Copper Mountain, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin resorts. He is in his second year volunteering as a cadet commander with the Colorado wing of the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol.

In high school, Vanderkooi played football and lacrosse and participated in student council and international club. He said he learned to play the bagpipes for fun and has had the opportunity to play at several events. He started taking Colorado Mountain College concurrent enrollment courses his senior year in high school and continued as an “A” student at the college last fall.

Colorado Mountain College adjunct instructor Dan Lipsher said it was “an honor” to recommend Vanderkooi to Rep. Jared Polis for the congressional recommendation letter needed to apply to West Point.

“In my four years of teaching at Colorado Mountain College, Stuart has distinguished himself as my very best student,” Lipsher said. “He was a real treat to have in a class because he was so bright and was clearly applying himself. His appointment is something the entire CMC community can be proud of.”

Capt. Randee Farrell, marketing and PR officer in West Point admissions, said the incoming class will include up to 1,250 students selected from 13,000 applicants. West Point graduates are obligated to serve on active duty as Army officers for at least five years after graduation.

“West Point exists to provide leaders of character for our Army who are inspired to careers as commissioned officers and to a lifetime of service to the nation,” Vanderkooi’s admission letter states. “West Point requires cadets with determination, integrity, self-discipline, strength of character, endurance and a willingness to work hard. …It will be demanding and difficult, and you will be expected to perform effectively under those pressures, but we are confident that you will succeed.”

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