For senior Drew Durkin, the commitment to serving others isn’t temporary or fleeting. At this point, it’s practically part of his DNA.
“It starts with my younger brother, who has been blind since he was born. For as long as I can remember, taking care of him has been a part of my life. That aspect of looking out for someone who can’t look out for themselves and serving others has clearly shaped who I am as a person and what I want to do with my life.”
And what he wants to do — what he’s worked incredibly hard to be able to do — is to be a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
He’ll start July 2, but the process of joining the Long Gray Line began about a year ago when he was admitted to the West Point Summer Leaders Experience. “I knew I wanted to go to a service academy before then, but that was the official start,” he said.
By law, he had to get a Congressional nomination just to be able to apply, so his interview process actually began with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, both of whom provided a nomination. Longer than a standard college application process, applying to West Point requires a lot of legwork — literally, since a physical test is required — and Durkin proved he was up to the challenge every step of the way. There was just one small hiccup: confusion over a waiver for a childhood food allergy diagnosis. Though a new test showed that he was no longer allergic he was convinced too much time had passed. Disappointed but determined, he began making plans to apply again next year.
Then another surprise: a call from Congressman Himes with Durkin’s official appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“I was never nervous throughout the process, but there was a moment when I thought, ‘Wow, this is a big commitment to make.’ But that thought came and went, and I’m really excited to get started.”
Durkin said that part of what the appeal of the military academy was “camaraderie and being a part of something bigger than yourself.” He said he came to know the true value of these principles through years of work with the Noroton Heights Volunteer Fire Department, and through participation in GFA’s athletics, performing arts, and Student Council.
“At GFA I learned how to interact with people from different backgrounds than my own,” he explained. “It’s taught me a lot about how to work with people who don’t necessarily have that same understanding of life that you have, and to try to work past those differences to come out as a team.”