By Elpidio R. Estioko
Almost all cadets entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point aspired and planned their entry to the military institution big time!
In the case of 21-year-old Filipino-American Cadet Eurica Shane Diego, born in Baguio City, Philippines who immigrated to Hawaii with her Filipina mother Sheleah Watson at the age of seven, she never thought of joining the military, no less the prestigious West Point.
It was in her senior year at Kahuku High School in North Shore, Oahu that Diego dreamed of bigger things, bigger than herself, serving other people, and giving back to the community… only to find herself joining the military after graduation.
In an interview, Diego confessed that she never thought of entering the military, not even USMA West Point. Her dad encouraged her while her commander in Junior ROTC in high school, Col. Douglas Jackson, influenced her to join. She went to West Point summer camp for two weeks and she loved the experience. “That must have been the turning point,” she said.
After graduating from West Point, she plans to serve the Academy for about five years and then decide if she will continue serving or join the private sector.
As to which branch of the military she will be serving, she said she doesn’t know yet. Unlike our civilian notion of them selecting which branch they will serve, she said that during their senior year, they are subjected to a process indicating their preference.
From there, the Academy will match where they will be assigned. She went through this process already, but she still doesn’t know where she will be serving. She will be graduating on December 18, 2020 and by that time; she would know which branch she will serve.
When asked if she ever thought of quitting the Academy, she said that “at some point, yes. But I thought of the reason why I joined in the first place where I wanted to serve the people and my family.”
Diego treasures and enjoyed her stay and the things she learned at the Academy.
“I enjoyed building relationships because the academy is people-based and I learned a lot of important things in life and enjoyed my stay,” she said. “I love my fellow cadets because they help us when they see one of us struggling. They come to our aid and vice versa.”
As to gender issues and ethnicity, she said she never encountered an issue based on her Filipino ethnicity. But “gender-wise, there is a big discrepancy between males and females in the Academy, but the Academy is addressing this gender equality. They are doing steps to address this issue.”
Diego recommends USMA at West Point to the youth, especially to women and Fil-Ams. “It is the best place to develop their personality and character,” she said. “This is a reputable institution for character-building.”
ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at email@example.com.