It’s a season of firsts for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point this year.
When its 2019 class of graduating cadets crosses the stage for commencement this weekend, the co-educational, liberal arts college will celebrate a number of significant milestones that touch upon increased diversity, merit, and personal achievements. Perhaps most notable is the fact that, when those students accept their diplomas on May 25, they will include the largest number of graduating African American women ever. A total of 34 women will rank among that group of more than 950 students, a marked increase from 27 in 2018.
These women will be part of another “first” for the college, which also recognizes its highest number of women to graduate for any class since 1980. In fact, it will graduate its 5000th woman in the Class of 2019.
Also during the May 25 commencement, West Point will celebrate the largest group of Hispanic individuals to graduate and will recognize its 1000th Jewish cadet to advance out of the academy. On a more global note, the school will award a diploma to its first international student to graduate from the Netherlands, an achievement made possible through the college’s international program, which has operated since 1889.
“These ‘seasons of firsts’ are unique for these soon-to-be Army officers who will lead America’s soldiers in the defense of our great nation,” says Cheryl Boujnida, Chief of Media Relations at the U.S. Military Academy.
West Point’s commencement ceremony takes place on Saturday at the college’s stadium at 10 a.m. The school expects to see about 15,000 to 20,000 family and guests in attendance, so anyone who plans to watch the festivities in-person should arrive early. (Stadium gates open at 6:30 a.m., in case you want to get there really early.) As for the speaker, Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2019. This appearance will be his second visit to West Point, and his first as the speaker.
If you can’t make it to the ceremony, never fear! West Point will also livestream the event beginning at 9:35 a.m. on Saturday. Tune into the festivities, which include the march-in and the hat toss, here.