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Passing the challenge: Trinity High School graduate Jacques Oesterich graduating from West Point

Courtesy Photo Jacques Oestreich, a Dickinson Trinity High School graduate, is shown during training at West Point in this undated photo.

After four years of intensive training, Jacques Oestreich of Dickinson is counting the days until graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Oestreich is among the class of about 1,000 cadets who will receive bachelor's degrees and be commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Graduation is May 25 at West Point, N.Y. His parents, Terry and Teena Oestreich, sister, April Oestreich, and several family and friends will be in attendance.

"It's been a good experience, Jacques said in a phone interview from campus. "You learn a lot about yourself."

Teena Oestreich expressed her pride at Jacques' accomplishment.

"It's been a tough road, but he's given it his all," she said.

She remembers Jacques talking about joining the military even as a child in grade school.

"I'm so proud of him and can't wait to go visit him," she said.

April Oestreich described Jacques as being encouraging and supportive.

"He can push me to do things I never thought I could," she said. "I'm so proud of him and all the very hard work he has put in leading up to his graduation. His graduation will be a memorable time for our whole family to celebrate."

Terry Oestreich also expressed his pride in Jacques's accomplishment.

"I don't think anyone can really appreciate how difficult it is," he said. "I think it takes an extreme amount of courage and dedication. Jacques told me how they pushed and tested every day ... and it's just a mental challenge all the time."

Even as Jacques was challenged at the academy, Terry advised him that quitting wasn't an option.

"He told us he wanted to make us proud," he said.

Terry Oestreich said a lot of people have touched Jacques' life -- his parents, pastors, teachers and scout leaders.

Oestreich, a graduate of Trinity High School, received his West Point nomination from retired Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.

He was excited about the nomination, but didn't know what to expect from the training.

"I don't think anything really can prepare you," he said. "It's more mental than anything -- there's quite a bit of physical fitness."

Oestreich pursued a degree in geospatial analysis -- a career related to cartography and map making.

"It's used in everything from law enforcement to the oil industry," he said. "Engineering firms use it. The Forestry Service uses it."

In addition to academic subjects, Oestreich was trained in leadership, first serving as a squad leader and then a platoon leader.

"They put you into situations you don't expect," he said.

No one could have prepared him for the training.

"Everybody has such different experiences," he said. "What happened to me was completely different from the other people."

Oestreich has been assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. It is home to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. He will serve as a transportation officer, with the assignment to begin in March 2014.

Prior to the assignment, he will enroll at officer training school in Virginia, assist with the training of land navigation back at West Point, then complete jump school at Fort Bragg, Ga.

The family is planning an open house for Jacques from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday, May 27, at Our Savior's Lutheran Church.