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Southwest Orange Thursday, Mar. 2, 2017 5 years ago

Cadet’s commitment earns him spot at dream school

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Foundation Academy senior Evan Fitzgibbon has harbored dreams of attending the selective United States Military Academy at West Point since he was in the third grade.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

His dream was an ambitious one, considering the tuition-free West Point, one of the five notoriously selective military academies in the country, has an acceptance rate of only 10.6%.

But the then-third-grader had set his heart on that goal because of his realization that the common denominator between his role models was their graduation from West Point, established in 1802 at West Point, New York.

“I thought it was so exciting that even as a young child he had that passion and that vision,” said his father, John Fitzgibbon. “But the other side of me was a little scared about it, you know, serving your country in harm’s way and what it meant in the future for us as parents knowing that your son is an officer in the military. So I think it was a bittersweet type of a feeling for us.”

That goal became a reality for the now 18-year-old. After returning from a hunting trip in Texas, he found a large, elaborately decorated envelope on his bed from West Point.

Evan Fitzgibbon, who discovered he earned a spot at his dream school after returning home from a hunting trip, plans to major in defense and strategic studies at West Point.

“We stood in the stairwell, and all of a sudden, we hear this kid just screaming at the top of his lungs,” John Fitzgibbon said. “He just went, ‘No way! NO WAY!’ And then he came running down the stairs with his beautiful certificate appointment, and in that moment we were just so thankful to God. But I knew that he had worked his whole life for this, and I would’ve been completely surprised if it didn’t happen.”

To prepare himself for the time when he’d have to start the application process, Evan Fitzgibbon went out of his way to develop his leadership skills, athletic abilities and academic prowess.

He joined the football team and eventually became team captain his senior year. He enrolled in the Civil Air Patrol — an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force — and worked his way up the ranks. He earned the Billy Mitchell Award, given to Civil Air Patrol cadets who complete the second phase of the cadet program, and eventually became a commander.

And all of it with the aim of one day being able to become a standout candidate, passing the physical exam and earning a congressional or senatorial nomination. And after an impressive interview with U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, he received the necessary stamp of approval.

Now that he’s been accepted, he can’t wait to finish his last semester at Foundation Academy and start school at West Point July 3. He plans to major in defense and strategic studies, with the aim of learning about a variety of battle strategies from military history to become an infantry officer and, eventually, a ranger. The academy requires five years of active duty and three years of reserve service.

“It’s just surreal — now that I’ve gotten into the school of my dreams,” Evan Fitzgibbon said. “I know what to expect, but I don’t know what God has planned for me there. But the main thing that I hope to accomplish is to just be developed into the best leader that I can be.”

Noting his son’s hard work ethic and accomplishment thus far, his father has no doubt he will become an excellent leader during his training and studies at West Point. 

“When you come in as a first-time cadet, you’re basically the lowest of the low, but I think he’s prepared himself for that through seeing his progression through the Civil Air Patrol,” John Fitzgibbon said. “So he’s got that mindset. He knows he’ll have to work hard when he first gets there, and he’ll succeed.”

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Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]

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