First ever Dutch person graduates from prestigious West Point

Graduation ceremony at the U.S. military academy West Point for the class of 2019
Graduation ceremony at the U.S. military academy West Point for the class of 2019. (Photo: Cadet Amanda Lin / U.S. Army)

The first ever Dutch student at the prestigious U.S. Military Academy in West Point has officially graduated with the Class of 2019. Tom Jansen, 23, enrolled at West Point in 2015, two years after his family moved to New York.

“It is a special experience. You have been working for it for four years,” Jansen told the Telegraph. “My fellow students, they have become my brothers and sisters,” he said.

He will now move forward with the Royal Military Academy in Breda, where he plans to quickly get used to how the Dutch work. His goal is to become a second lieutenant in the Dutch Army.

“How often can you experience such a thing? In an environment like this, with an achievement like this? Super proud!” his father Alex Jansen told the newspaper. Alex Jansen has been in the Dutch Army for over 30 years. The rank on the uniform he wore to his son’s graduation identifies him as a Lieutenant Colonel.

The younger Jansen said he wants to bring the lessons he learned in America back to the Netherlands, and also connect his network of U.S. connections to his Dutch network. “The US Army has developed a new gender-neutral sports test. One of my teachers was in charge of this project,” he said. “I heard that the Netherlands is also interested. So I got that American research leader in touch with a contact person in the Netherlands,” he told a publication produced by the Dutch Ministry of Defense.

West Point rejects roughly 90 percent of its 13 thousand annual applicants. Roughly 25 percent of its current student body are female. And just about one percent are international students, according to the Academy’s website, with a maximum of 60 international cadets eligible to study at West Point at any given time.

As a student, he helped grow the Academy’s international student organization. His team helped connect other cadets with local families to give them a more personal connection in the area, and helped other students with visas and outings. His class included students from Germany and Poland, he told the Telegraaf.

The work was a source of deep pride for Jansen, he said to the magazine.

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