West Point Military Cadet Visits Alma Mater
West Point Military Cadet Visits Alma Mater
Posted on 11/22/2017
This is the image for the news article titled West Point Military Cadet Visits Alma MaterOn November 21st, Danville High School alumnus and military cadet, Joseph Alcorn, returned to his alma mater to address students. Alcorn spoke to eighth grade students at John W. Bate Middle School.

Buzzing with curiosity, many students asked Alcorn questions about his journey from Danville to West Point, advice on navigating middle school, and more.

Alcorn shared that his dream to join the military first began as a sixth grader at John W. Bate Middle School while he was reading in the library.

“I knew I wanted to give back and do my part,” said Alcorn.

photoWhile he knew what he wanted in a future, Alcorn confessed in middle school he wasn’t always the best student or in the best physical shape. If he could give his eighth grade self a few words of advice, it’d be to start preparing earlier.

“I’d tell myself to pay attention in Math class,” said Alcorn. It wasn’t until high school that Alcorn got serious about his future. Three times a week, he and a fellow Danville High School student would wake up and run four miles.

“If I knew in the eighth grade the things I know now that would help me get in better physical shape or academically ready for college, I would not have had to work so hard at 16 and 17.”

photoWith West Point being one of the toughest colleges to get into, Alcorn did have to work hard. Just to compete for admission to West Point, students first have to receive a nomination. Each year, more than 10,000 candidates open files for admission to West Point, but only about 4,000 receive nominations.

To be one of the 4,000 students receiving a nomination, Alcorn interviewed with a congressman, prepared three essays and passed the candidate fitness assessment.

Alcorn, who has always had aspirations to move to a large metropolitan area, told students the best ticket to getting out of your small town is your education.

Through his hard work in and outside the classrooms at Danville High School, Joseph was one of three Danville students in the class of 2016 to be accepted to a military academy. Now a sophomore at West Point, Alcorn continues to set new goals.

“I want to stay in the top half of my class and eventually study abroad in France,” said Alcorn.

Alcorn told students that without self-discipline he wouldn’t be able to achieve his new goal.

“When you go to college it’s not like elementary, middle or even high school. You have the option to go to class. You have to choose what to do with your time.”

In case his audience missed the theme, Alcorn made it simple: "If you have the grades you can go anywhere.” With his listeners fully engaged, he drove home the point: "There are people at this school here to help you,” he concluded, "I’m willing to help you."  

See more of Joseph's visit with the eighth grade class in this photo gallery.