For nearly a year, Colin had been engaged in one of the most selective application processes in the country. Generally, to even be considered for an appointment to West Point, students must be nominated by a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a senator, or the vice president. Each can only have five nominated cadets at West Point at any given time, which usually means only one per year.
Colin had high hopes when he learned that Higgins would be nominating him for an appointment to West Point, but that was only one step in the process. It wasn’t until February 1 that he knew he had been accepted and would be attending one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation.
“It was one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me,” said Colin, 17, a lifelong resident of the Town of Tonawanda.
‘The Greatest Honor’
Colin first started the application process in spring 2016. There were three separate steps: applying to West Point itself, undergoing a military medical/physical screening, and applying for the nomination from Higgins.
After he had been accepted, he had the opportunity to take part in an overnight stay at the storied campus on the banks of the Hudson. It was during this visit that he knew he had made the right decision.
“There is so much history there,” Colin said. “I was just blown away by the beauty of the campus.”
Public service is in Colin’s blood. His grandfather and uncle both served in the Armed Forces, and his father is a federal prosecutor. Colin had known for some time that he wanted to attend a military service academy, though he had his sights set on West Point. Just in case he wasn’t accepted, he had applied to the U.S. Naval Academy as well. He successfully applied for a nomination for an appointment from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and he participated in the U.S. Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar at the end of his junior year.
“For me, it was the overall dedication to government that my family has had that has been such an important part of my life,” Colin said. “I wanted to have that service, and the greatest honor one can achieve is service to their country.”
Like most West Point cadets, Colin will likely graduate as a commissioned officer – a second lieutenant – in the U.S. Army upon graduation. Colin will be majoring in biology, and his current aspiration is to be selected for the pre-med program and to attend medical school after graduation. He will be committed to at least five years of service after graduation – nine if he attends medical school.
On July 2, Colin will depart for West Point and begin six weeks of intensive cadet training, after which he will be formally sworn in as a student of the school. His first trip home will not be until Thanksgiving, as cadets are extremely restricted as to when they can leave campus.
High School Achievement
Colin is finishing an impressive career at Kenmore West High School. He is third in his class, a member of the National Honor Society, a student in the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, Student Council vice president, and the alternate student representative on the Ken-Ton School District Board of Education.
“Colin has demonstrated his leadership skills at Kenmore West High School, as the Vice President of Student Council and as a Board of Education Student Representative,” said Principal Dean Johnson. “Colin is a very hard working, respectful, and caring student and leader.”
In 2016, Colin was the Town of Tonawanda Youth Bureau Outstanding Youth Award recipient for Kenmore West High School. This year, he was the Erie-Niagara Sunrise Exchange Club Youth of the Year for Kenmore West.
“Colin has done an exceptional job balancing a rigorous academic program with music, sports and other interests,” said Laura Howse, coordinator of the IB Program at Kenmore West. “He truly displays the qualities on the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile such as caring, balanced, inquirer, principled, and risk taker.”
Colin is an accomplished middle distance runner for Kenmore West track/cross country coach Martin Madore. Colin was captain and MVP of the Cross Country team during the fall season. He was captain of the Indoor Track team during the winter season, running the 3200m. He is also a member of the Outdoor Track team during the spring season, running the 3200m and the 3000-meter steeplechase. Colin was featured by WIVB Channel 4 as the news station’s Scholar Athlete for the month of November.
In addition, Colin is an accomplished musician, playing tenor saxophone for the Kenmore West High School Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and Pit Orchestra under Band Director Kenneth Belote. Colin has been accepted into highly selective ensembles including Area All-State Concert Band two years in a row, as well as the Buffalo State College Honor Band.
“Colin is one of the most ambitious students I have known,” Belote said. “Colin has been a leader in all that he is involved in at Kenmore West including athletics, academics, performing arts and community service.”
Opportunities in Ken-Ton
Music has been an important part of Colin’s life. He fondly recalls each music teacher he has had going all the way back to his years at Hoover Elementary School. The many performances by the Kenmore West High School Jazz Ensemble under Belote’s leadership, such as the Hard Rock Café and holiday concerts at Ken-Ton elementary schools, are among Colin’s most memorable high school experiences.
Colin also considers himself lucky to have had the chance to take part in the Kenmore West High School IB Program. There are only two other schools in the eight counties of Western New York that offer the IB curriculum, and the program includes some of the most rigorous high school coursework in the world.
“I love the IB Program,” Colin said. “All the teachers do a great job and are so dedicated to helping us. IB has given me the skills I need to be successful throughout my life, especially in critical thinking, public speaking and writing.”
Colin is grateful for the support of his parents, and both he and his parents have expressed their gratitude for all the professionals who have helped Colin become the person he is today.
“I have been so lucky to be in this district,” Colin said. “I had so many great teachers going back to elementary school. Everyone has had such an important role in my development. The teachers always pushed us to be the best we can be.”
When asked what advice he would give to younger students, he cited the many different academic, extracurricular and athletic opportunities offered in the Ken-Ton School District. They probably hear it all the time but it is true, he says – get involved in different things whether it be athletics, the arts, or extracurricular activities.
“We are so lucky that the district gives us so many opportunities to get involved with,” Colin said. “I think it’s important for students to make themselves as well-rounded as they can. In the end, it all pays off.”