After months of interviews, essays, meeting with Utah’s Congressional delegation and multiple physical tests, Green Canyon High School senior Brody Low received an exciting phone call recently: he had been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
According to Brody’s recruitment liaison, it has been a few years since someone from Cache Valley has been accepted to West Point.
“He stressed the importance of how long it’s been since someone from Cache Valley has had someone go to West Point,” says Brody. “There have been people recently attend the Air Force or Navy, but as far as West Point is concerned it’s been a while.
Additionally, Brody will be the first-ever West Point Cadet to represent Green Canyon High School.
The Low family has some history in the military: a grandfather on Brody’s father’s side was in the Army and a great-grandfather on his mother’s side single handedly captured a Nazi who was tried and convicted at the Nuremberg Trials.
“There is a strong military connection on both sides,” says Brody’s father, Bob Low. “It’s not talked about a lot, but there are definitely those roots that have pulled him, I believe, to want to live up to that service.”
Despite the family connection to the military, Brody’s desire to join came naturally. Since the 6th grade he wanted to be a fighter pilot. As he got older, Brody joined the Civil Air Patrol and had a desire to join the Air Force. Aviation is still a possibility with the Army, but the leadership opportunities it presents really stood out to Brody.
“I like the leadership aspect of it, and the people part, not so much about planes,” Brody explains. “There are more leadership opportunities and there are other areas I can still go in to, like physics or law school. They still have those options.”
Wanting to attend a military academy and actually getting accepted are two very different things. Nationally, less than 10% of high school seniors who apply to West Point get accepted, so Brody finds himself in pretty elite company. Approximately 13,000 apply, 4,000 receive nominations and only about 1,200 actually get accepted.
The academy looks at a strong academic profile for its potential cadets, that the students not only have a high GPA but also take rigorous classes (not just shop and PE).
“Beyond academics they look for leadership, community leadership, service and athletics,” Brody explains.
He held leadership positions in athletics (as the co-captain of Green Canyon’s wrestling team), participated in his community’s Youth Council, and held youth leadership positions within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“They look into your full character,” says Brody, “and who you are as a well-rounded person.”
Brody’s application process began with a seven-page resume of his accomplishments and several essays about why he should be nominated. He also needed to receive a nomination from Utah’s Congressional delegation. Last fall he met with staff members from the offices of Senator Mike Lee, Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Rob Bishop.
“The Congressmen and the staff try to pick who they feel would represent their district, or their area, the best,” explains Brody. “It’s in their best interest to pick someone to represent their state, or district.”
After the interviews, Brody still needed to work hard at school, write more formal essays, pass a physical fitness assessment and wait to see if he would receive a formal nomination from his Congressmen.
“I received three nominations for West Point, one from each Congressman that I applied to. From there I was cleared to continue the application.”
Brody also received nominations to Navy and Air Force, but Sen. Hatch, Sen. Lee and Rep. Bishop were unanimous in their nominations to West Point.
After all the hard work, the many months of preparation while also carrying a heavy class load, wrestling for the school and working at Lee’s Marketplace, Bob says it was an emotional experience when the family was notified that Brody had been accepted to West Point.
“People say, ‘we can’t believe it.’ We believe it. We knew he could do it,” Bob says as tears begin to well in his eyes. “It’s just refreshing to see someone who puts that much effort in to get recognized and rewarded, for others to recognize what we see in him, the greatness, the kindness and the leadership.
“There’s nothing like a parent being able to see someone else recognize the greatness in your child that you see. And that’s what we felt.”
The process of applying to a military academy was grueling, but Brody says it was absolutely worth it.
“Just having that as a goal has helped me shape my character,” he explains. “I feel like anyone who would try would have a greater character development than if you just wanted to go to Utah State. At least for me I tried as hard as I could on anything I did. If other people try to attend an academy they might face a similar process.”
Brody will board an airplane headed to New York on July 1st. West Point is a four-year institution offering 45 different majors and Brody will be required to be active duty military for at least five years after graduation.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that it had been over a decade since anyone from Cache Valley had been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point. There actually have been a handful of Cache Valley high school graduates who have attended West Point within the last 10 years, including Tory Zollinger. Zollinger was a 2011 graduate of Mountain Crest High School and a member of the 2017 West Point graduating class.