WASHINGTON: They pose proudly in uniform, swords in hand: 34 young black women are set to graduate from West Point on Saturday, a record for the prestigious US military academy.
It is not the only record for the class of 2019: of the 985 cadets who have completed their four-year training, 221 are women.
“The strength of our Army lies within the diversity of its people and @WestPoint_USMA continues to prepare our future leaders to lead the modern #Soldier,” the US Army said on its Twitter account.
“Nothing standard-wise has changed, it’s just a concerted effort to broaden the people applying,” said academy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Ophardt.
“Our last true integration was in 1980 when the first group of women graduated from the Academy. Since then, we had a diverse pool, but not what we wanted,” he said.
According to data released by West Point, the class of 2019 includes 110 African Americans (11 percent), 79 Asians or Pacific Islanders (eight per cent), 88 Hispanics (nine per cent) and seven Native Americans (0.7 per cent).
One of the proud graduates-to-be, Tiffany Welch Baker, this week told the NBC’s Today show that she wanted to be a role model.
“I hope those girls can see themselves in us,” she said. “I want these little black girls to say hey, I can do it too! It is possible for me.”