2 military academies to welcome 3 Lee grads

Published on Thursday, 22 May 2014 22:34 - Written by Emily Guevara eguevara@tylerpaper.com

Three Robert E. Lee High School seniors are among the few students in the nation who have been admitted to attend two of the military service academies this fall.

Jack Oliver, 17, will attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, while Abby Halbrook, 18, and Philip White, 18, will attend the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.

“These three students, each in their own way, have demonstrated the very highest levels of character, commitment and leadership during their time at Robert E. Lee High School,” school Principal Gary Brown said, according to a Tyler ISD news release. “I look forward to seeing all that these outstanding students are able to achieve in the future. The possibilities for them are limitless.”

For Oliver, the decision to attend a military academy was motivated in part by his family. His father attended West Point and his brother attends the Naval Academy.

It was while visiting his brother at the academy that he became convinced that was the place for him. He plans to study economics and possibly earn an MBA.

A classmate influenced White to seek admission to the military academies. Last year, his friend went through the application process to attend West Point. Although he ultimately was not accepted, learning about the process motivated White to apply.

He said West Point is rooted in service and history. He felt it offered him the best opportunity to grow into a leader. As far as a major, he is deciding between environmental science and political science.

Miss Halbrook had no military background whatsoever and, in fact, had verbally committed to attend Texas A&M University on an athletic scholarship — she is a cross-country runner — but a visit to West Point changed her mind and now she will run for that team.

She said the opportunities there are many, the support system is unbelievable and the job security for a graduate is great as well.

In addition, the opportunity to earn a college degree without accruing debt is great. She is planning to major in life sciences. Although she does not know exactly what she wants to do, she plans to go into the medical field and possibly become a physician’s assistant.

All three of the students said their parents have been supportive of their plans, although, for some, it took a bit longer for family members to accept.

Miss Halbrook said it was an honor to receive this opportunity. Oliver said he was excited about it and is ready to meet his fellow classmates. White, too, was pleased.

“It felt to me like the entire community of Tyler was putting me up for this opportunity,” he said.

White and Miss Halbrook will report to West Point on July 2 for basic training. Oliver will report to the Naval Academy on July 1.