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'Totally a surprise': Trinity senior reflects on West Point nomination from Rep. Armstrong

Congressman Kelly Armstrong recently nominated a handful of young North Dakotans to U.S. service academies. Among those on the list, Trinity Catholic School’s Lexi Kostelecky was nominated.

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Senior Lexi Kostelecky of Trinity Catholic Schools in Dickinson is pictured. Kostelecky recently received a nomination to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., from Congressman Kelly Armstrong, R-ND. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Unlike some seniors in high school, who are undecided of what will come after graduation, Trinity Catholic Schools' Lexi Kostelecky’s academic-driven mindset has opened up a door that not many get a chance to even stand at the entryway of — the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Upon receiving her nomination earlier in November from Congressman Kelly Armstrong, R-ND, Kostelecky is now in the application process. However, the consideration to attend the West Point service academy was not always on her radar.

To her surprise, Kostelecky opened up an email one day in March from the U.S. Military Academy, notifying that they wanted her to apply. Within the next couple of weeks after that initial email from the service academy, she received letters in the mail — all pointing her to West Point.

“Them reaching out to me was kind of a big deal, because I didn't really know anybody else who had gotten contacted. Most people went out of their way to apply themselves instead of being reached out to by somebody at West Point,” Kostelecky said. “But there's a lot of military background in my family and they kind of helped me determine if this was something that I could handle (and) if this was something that I wanted to do.”

Before filling out the application, Kostelecky reached out to other people who attended West Point and those who went through the application process and understood the requirements that are expected of applicants.

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Reflecting on her nomination from Armstrong, Kostelecky said she’s “both nervous and excited.”

“Obviously, it's a very big deal to get that level of a nomination, but it's also very nerve wracking because the next steps are the fitness exam and the medical exam,” she said, adding, “I don't know what to expect from that… Once I go through that, if I get medically cleared and I pass the fitness exam, then I get my application put with thousands of others. And that's also very nerve wracking, because you just never know what's going to happen with that. But overall, just receiving the nomination was very exciting and totally a surprise.”

The process for applying and getting accepted into West Point is an arduous affair.

Applications to West Point begin by completing the candidate questionnaire. This application process requires physical exams, mental examinations and a congressional nomination. From there, the candidate is evaluated by the admissions office to determine whether they will be competitive for admission and if deemed a competitive candidate, they receive additional forms to complete.

“So what they felt like was good enough for them to reach out to me, I will never fully know,” she remarked.

Not knowing that she would receive a congressional nomination from Armstrong, Kostelecky was in shock when he visited the school Nov. 8, and said she’s so grateful for this opportunity and the people who continue to support her through this journey.

“I have to say thank you to all of them because my family has been so supportive. Prior to receiving the nomination, my counselor Mrs. (Heather) Schieno was beyond helpful in setting me up with video calls with West Point graduates and getting whatever information I needed. And then after receiving the nomination, a lot of my teachers and peers were very (supportive); they congratulated me a lot. So that was nice because it makes you feel good, but it also made me think like, ‘Wow.’ Reality settled in,” she added.

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Congressman Kelly Armstrong, R-ND, congratulates Lexi Kostelecky, a senior at Trinity Catholic Schools, with a nomination to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., during a special ceremony. (Contributed / DeAnn Scheeler)

On Nov. 11, Armstrong announced that he nominated five North Dakotans to the U.S. service academies, which included Kostelecky to the U.S. Military Academy; Griffin House, of Bismarck, and Saxon Weaver, of Fargo, to the U.S. Naval Academy; and Campbell Dorsey, of Grand Forks, and Isabella Loberg, of Wahpeton, to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Each academy admission board will determine final appointments.

“Lexi, Griffin, Saxon, Campbell, and Isabella have committed to serving our nation in the U.S. Armed Forces, and I am proud to nominate them to the service academies,” Armstrong said in his announcement. “I join their family, friends, neighbors and all North Dakotans in thanking them and wishing them the best as they represent our great state.”

Every branch of military service has been represented by a member of Kostelecky family and it is her hope that she may continue this legacy to serve and defend her country, she said. If accepted, she will be the first in her family to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.

If Kostelecky ends up attending West Point, she hopes to pursue a science-based degree. But even if her path doesn’t lead toward the service academy, she intends to pursue a major in biology. Some of her favorite activities besides her studies include reading, choir, band and volunteering at Connect Medical Clinic.

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Congressman Kelly Armstrong, R-ND, sits with Lexi Kostelecky, a senior at Trinity Catholic Schools, after he surprised her with a visit along with a nomination to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in early November. (Contributed / DeAnn Scheeler)

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