Simran Patil, a 17-year-old senior at Sahuarita High School, has been appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She leaves for basic training in July.
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and Sen. John McCain nominated Patil, who also was accepted at two other academies.
On Wednesday, Army Capt. Shaun Adams, representing West Point, formally presented her with the appointment during the Awards Night of the Sahuarita Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (See Pages A2, A22).
She is the first cadet from the SNJROTC since 2009 to attend West Point. She chose the academy because of its career opportunities related to medicine. She wants to become a doctor.
Patil excelled on the athletic field and in the classroom, where she says she sometimes got up at 3 a.m. to do homework. With a GPA of 4.15, she is ranked first in her class of 177.
Patil has a background in orienteering, track and field, and as a cheerleader flyer and tumbler.
She has been cadet commanding officer of the SNJROTC, also known as the Mustang Company, this year, and has served as the SNJROTC operations officer, administrative officer, platoon commander, class chief, unarmed drill team commander and academic team member.
She has also been editor-in-chief for the SHS Mustang Express newspaper and vice president of the school’s Science Club. She has coordinated and performed community service through organizations like the National Honor Society, La Posada Retirement Community, and Casa Maria Soup Kitchen.
Bradley W. Roberson, CDR, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and senior naval science instructor, and Jeffrey King, MSGT, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), naval science instructor, have been Patil’s instructors in the SNJROTC.
Patil says Roberson gave her the confidence to grow as a leader and a person. When she told him she was considering applying to West Point, he said, “Don’t worry. You’ll get in.”
Roberson said Patil “truly reflects the citizenship, commitment and leadership capabilities that exist in our high schools today.”
As for King, “He never let any of us settle at mediocrity,” she said. “He realized there was a special skill in each of us, so he pushed us outside our comfort zones in order to strive for the impossible.”
Patil was born in India and became a naturalized U.S. citizen two years ago. Her father and mother, Basavaraj and Viju Patil, are contract project managers for international companies. Patil has lived abroad and in several states.
Family support from her parents and her brother, Sharath, who is 21 and preparing for law school, helped her, Patil says.
When Patil was in her sophomore year, her father suggested she consider West Point.
“There are so many opportunities here in America,” he told her. “Even if you fail in one area, you can succeed in another.”
Of her mother, Patil says, “My mom has had a great influence throughout my life…. Without her belief in me, I don’t think I would still be ranked first in my class. I think I owe a lot to her.”
Patil’s parents take great pride in her.
“She has given me everything a dad can dream of,” her father said. “I never take her for granted. She has a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong.”
Patil is looking forward to attending West Point.
“I’m extremely excited. I know how slim the chances are of being accepted,” she says. “So many people helped me – plus, a certain amount of luck was involved.”
Jeannie Applegate is a freelance writer in Sahuarita. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org