West Point Cadet Returns to Present at Former School

SJND -- West Point Cadet and St. Joseph Notre Dame High School (SJND) graduate Jackson McDermott speaking to SJND students.
SJND -- West Point Cadet and St. Joseph Notre Dame High School (SJND) graduate Jackson McDermott speaking to SJND students.

West Point Cadet Returns to Present at Former School

St. Joseph Notre Dame High School (SJND) students were paid a visit from a former student who is now serving the country and gaining life skills while doing so. Last month, Cadet Jackson McDermott, a 2020 SJND graduate, gave a presentation for more than a dozen SJND students giving an in-depth glimpse at what life is like at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

McDermott was on campus recently as part of his volunteer service in West Point’s Cadet Public Relations Council (CPRC) program in which cadets share their experiences, career paths, and dozens of academic degrees available at West Point. For the SJND students, it was an opportunity to ask unfiltered questions. From their enthusiasm, many seemed intent on exploring West Point opportunities.

Upon his graduation in 2024, McDermott will serve in the U.S. Army Infantry as a second lieutenant. He wants to gain Infantry experience before choosing a career path.

“Being a second lieutenant in the infantry will present many obstacles that I need to overcome before I can truly make a decision on what I want to do next,” he said. “My focus, however, is to present myself with as many options as I can for when the time comes.

“My three options as I see them now are as follows: serve for five years in the Infantry and then transition out of the Army; serve in the Infantry for additional years after my five-year obligation; after my first two years of Infantry service, apply for the Funded Legal Education Program (FLEP).”

If McDermott is accepted into FLEP, the Army will cover the cost for him to attend any law school he is accepted into. After graduating from law school, he would become a member of the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp (JAGC).

Students paid particular attention to McDermott’s presentation of the many career paths and academic degrees within West Point, including those in the sciences, humanities, law, and a number of specialty programs that include defense and strategic studies, nuclear engineering, operations research, and space science.

McDermott credits his time at SJND for preparing him for acceptance to West Point, something to which he aspired since he was in elementary school.

“Saint Joseph Notre Dame provided a very positive experience for me and played a great role in preparing me academically for my West Point journey,” McDermott said. “The counseling department does a very good job of educating students and getting them ready to apply for colleges throughout their four years. In addition, SJND gave me the opportunity to take many challenging AP classes from my sophomore through senior years. These courses taught me the preparation and attention to detail it takes to succeed in a college-level course. I definitely performed much higher in the initial West Point courses that I also took as APs in high school.”

SJND Associate Director of Counseling and College Counselor Lauren Mercado is not surprised at McDermott’s trajectory.

“In his time at SJND, Jackson evidenced the qualities needed to represent our nation with service in the armed forces,” said Mercado. “He was exceedingly goal-oriented, humble, disciplined, responsible, and respectful. Always driven by his purpose to do something worthwhile for our society, Jackson made an impression on me for his maturity, kindness, and sense of purpose.”

Editor’s note: A version of this story was originally published on the SJND website.