CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A West Virginia National Guard Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy graduate has made history by becoming the first cadet to receive an appointment to the U.S. Army’s Military Service Academy, West Point.

William Farkas, a 17-year-old recent enlistee in the West Virginia Guard and Tunnelton native, will embark on a journey to become an officer in the United States Army beginning this month, when he departs for basic training. He was notified this week of his appointment to West Point, which is one of the most prestigious universities in the county.

Former Mountaineer Challenge Academy Cadet William Farkas poses for a photo with his brother and father. Farkas has used his experience at the MCA to pursue an appointment to West Point. (Courtesy Photo)

Following his graduation from basic training and one-station unit training at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri, Farkas will report to West Point in June of 2022 to begin his college career, according to a release from the West Virginia National Guard.

Farkas was a standout cadet during his time at the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy-South in Montgomery. He earned several awards, including the Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Cadet Award and Adjutant General’s Award for Academic Excellence.

“I just feel overwhelmed with joy and am prepared to take on all the challenges that lay ahead,” Farkas said when asked about his reaction to the official nomination. “I couldn’t have done this without the help and support of MCA,” he continued. “This is not a journey that can be walked by yourself. You need the support of other people. There are so many [people] that have helped me along the way, from teachers, to coaches, to staff at MCA, to just everyday normal people; my mentors and my family. I wouldn’t even be the person I am today without how they raised me. I believe giving credit where credit is due is important here.”

The road to West Point is not an easy one. The academy is extremely selective, and candidates must meet stringent standards even to be considered for appointment. Students must score a 1340 on the SAT or a 29 on the ACT, complete a Candidate Questionnaire and submit a School Official Evaluation that includes four letters of recommendation from teachers. They also must demonstrate leadership or community service through programs like Boys or Girls State, pass a physical fitness test and secure a nomination. Each Congressional representative and U.S. Senator can nominate up to 10 candidates to each Service Academy. Children of military veterans and JROTC cadets can seek service-connected nominations through the White House.

Farkas’ dad, Jay, served in the Army’s 586th Engineer Company, allowing him to receive a service-connected nomination. He received nominations from both West Virginia Senators, Joe Manchin III and Shelley Moore Capito, as well as Rep. David McKinley.

“We believe in service to our country in our family and we believe that a citizen should give back to keep the freedoms that we have,” Jay said. “He’s going to continue that tradition and we are so proud of him.”

Will’s parents, Jay and Rhonda, are elated at all that their son has achieved thus far and look forward to how he will give back to West Virginia and the opportunities ahead.

“It’s an amazing opportunity and he’s done a lot of things and put in the hard work to get to this point,” said Jay Farkas. “I also think the ChalleNGe Academy and the West Virginia National Guard have helped him get to this point. He learned a lot of things at MCA about leadership and it was really a great thing for him. I’m excited about his future and all the opportunities he will have.”

His mother, Rhonda, knows that the hard work he has displayed throughout his life has helped shape him into the young man he is today. She looks forward to Will bringing back his experiences from this journey and serving as a role model for other West Virginia youth. “For him to be able to go out and achieve his dreams, coming from an area where some of our youth struggle, it’s going to be a great opportunity for him to be a role model to those young kids,” she said.

The West Virginia National Guard’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, noted that Farkas is an example for all to emulate.

“The National Guard Bureau’s Youth ChalleNGe program is truly a success story for changing lives across this nation,” Crane said. “I could not be more proud of what Will has accomplished through his time at MCA-South. We are so lucky to have young West Virginians like him join the ranks of our military. I know he will continue to do great things and make an impact in his community and anywhere that the Army may send him. I wish him all the success at West Point and his future endeavors.”