With his acceptance to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Jacob Goldberg — a graduating senior at Windermere High — became the first Wolverine to be appointed to one of the five U.S. Service Academies.
In the cavernous auditorium on Windermere High School’s campus, a special moment is unfolding for one student, Jacob Goldberg.
On this day, Wednesday, May 27, Goldberg is receiving his official appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Normally, the place would be crowded for such an event, but on this day, only a group of about eight people are on hand — most family.
As Goldberg sits in his cushioned seat, West Point District Field Officer and retired Army Col. Michael Ulekowski takes to the stage to speak to the small, yet eager group.
“Today, we honor a young man who is stepping up to the plate to serve his country,” Ulekowski said. “The mission of West Point is to educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets, so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character — committed to the values of duty, honor, country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army.
“Now I have been given the honor of introducing the latest addition to the Long Gray Line — this young man who we have known for three years will be walking in some very big footsteps,” he said. “On behalf of the President of the United States and the superintendent of the United States Military Academy, it gives me great pleasure to present Jacob Joseph Goldberg with a certificate of appointment to the West Point Class of 2024.”
The small round of applause that followed reverberated through the empty auditorium as Goldberg made his way to the stage to accept his appointment.
It’s a momentous occasion in Goldberg’s life, and it’s also a moment that will go down in Windermere High history. With his acceptance to West Point, Goldberg became the first Wolverine to be accepted to any of the five U.S. Service Academies.
“I appreciate it,” Goldberg said. “I think it is just a culmination of all my work over the last five years. I wanted to join the Army, and then I heard about West Point, and I don’t know — I just wanted to aim high, so that’s where I aimed.”
Goldberg, 18, is one of 1,137 students who were accepted to West Point out of more than 15,000 applications. His journey began in eighth grade, and it required years of dedication and work. But, that’s what is expected of anyone who wants to attend one of the service academies.
“They say you have to have academics, athletics and leadership,” Goldberg said. “I had academics, but I didn’t have athletics, and I had some leadership, but I immediately started working toward it. In eighth grade, I tried out for the track team and didn’t make it. Then I came out in ninth grade — I was the slowest man, but I was still on the team, and I just kept working my way through that.
“In band, I’ve always strived for leadership positions,” he said. “Everything I have done through high school has been aiming toward this.”
“I think it is just a culmination of all my work over the last five years. I wanted to join the Army, and then I heard about West Point, and I don’t know — I just wanted to aim high, so that’s where I aimed.”
— Jacob Goldberg
During his time at Windermere, Goldberg was a member of the football and track team, was named All-State jazz drummer and was a member of the Student Government Association, the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society and president of the school’s Veterans Club.
Throw in his SAT score of 1350, and all Goldberg had to do was find someone to nominate him. He found that person in U.S. Rep. Val Demings.
Although it takes an individual effort to get to this point, it also requires the support of those around him — such as his parents, Mark and Ada Goldberg. Although, if you ask Mark Goldberg, the success lies squarely on his son’s shoulders.
“I always say he does it himself, honestly — it’s him,” Mark Goldberg said. “We don’t have any magic. We encourage him and try to help him, but he has succeeded because of himself — he has an incredible work ethic.”
“It’s something that has to come from within, and he has it,” Ada Goldberg added.
The next step for Jacob Goldberg starts in July, when he will begin four weeks of training before going on to become a cadet in the fall.
In the meantime, Jacob Goldberg has a routine set into place to keep himself in shape. With school done, the biggest challenge now is being consistent with his running and weight training.
“I have a workout plan that I mostly haven’t been sticking to, but this week I’ve been sticking much more to it,” Jacob Goldberg said with a laugh.