Brahmas marching to military school


Photo courtesy of SEBASTIAN HOUNG

Seniors David Song (left) and Sebastian Houng were accepted into West Point, a U.S. military academy on the East Coast, and will begin there next year.

Angela Yang , Asst. News Editor

It’s a rare accomplishment for even one student from a high school to be accepted into the most prestigious military academy in the world, but this year two Diamond Bar High School students will be setting off to their dream school together.

Seniors Sebastian Houng and David Song set their sights set on West Point, the U.S.  Military Academy, and have persevered to achieve that goal.

Song first realized he wanted to join the military around sophomore year, but did not consider West Point as his primary choice for school until his junior year, as it was the only service academy which offered a business management major.

“I knew I wanted to serve in the military, but I also wanted a college experience that was just different,” Song said via Instagram. “I definitely didn’t choose it because of its name and prestige. It definitely isn’t a bad thing but […] I chose to go there to serve something bigger than myself.”

Similarly, Houng knew that he wanted to go into the military by the end of his freshman year. Instead of solely joining the military or attending to a regular college first, he decided to choose the option that combined the best of both options.

“I went to [West Point] and saw a recruitment poster, it said ‘Much of the history we teach was made by the people we taught,’” Houng said. “That was the thing that got me wanting to go there.”

Both DBHS students went through numerous struggles to get accepted, but they found their motivation to keep moving forward. West Point could drop applicants at any time, according to Song, and it was stressful to get all the requirements in on time.

“I kept my eyes on the end goal and just kept pushing myself that way,” Houng said.

Applicants have to meet strict requirements in order to be considered for the academy.

Academically, the school requires copies of transcripts and test scores as well as a verified record of all activities, each of which add points to the applicant’s candidate score.

Physically, the students are  required to take the candidate fitness assessment, participating in various events such as push-ups, basketball throw and the mile run, which tested their strength and endurance. If an applicant fails even one event, they fail the entire assessment.

 Candidates also undergo an extensive medical screening process. Numerous doctors meet with each applicant to examine their general health and note all past injuries sustained.

“This was the hardest step for me because I sustained a lot of injuries from sports,” Song said.

Applicants are also required to obtain three teacher recommendations as well as a nomination from a congressperson or a senator. Houng received his nomination from U.S. Rep. Norma Torres, while Song was nominated by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce.

According to Song, the process of getting a nomination is very competitive each year. He started with contacting the person in charge of nominations early and began making connections.

“I [paid visits and] also hand delivered my packet with my transcript and essays in person so that they could put a face to the name,” Song said.

“For interview section I just went in there relaxed. I knew that this is what I wanted and just tried my best to be confident but respectful.”

Song’s primary career choice would be to branch into aviation. He plans to serve more than 20 years, although acknowledging that life may take him elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Houng aspires to work as an Army intelligence officer after college. After retirement, he hopes to work in the CIA or the FBI.

“There were definitely times where things got rocky and it was hard to keep pushing,” Song said. “But I just kept looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel.”