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NEWS | Nov. 1, 2021
Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy Grad sets sights on West Point
By Whitney Humphrey
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – William Farkas is not like most teenagers. A simple conversation with the not-quite-17-year-old from Tunnelton quickly reveals his maturity, intelligence, and drive.
Those character traits have earned Farkas, who graduated Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy-South in September, two nominations to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
"I've always had the desire to serve my country in the military pretty much as long as I remember," Farkas said. "It's something my parents instilled in me, and I was always reading books growing up, watching military documentaries, learning about the experience across all the different branches. Going to MCA, I think really refined my goals and what path I would like to take specifically."
Farkas, who turns 17 on November 24, has already earned his high school diploma through Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy as well as West Point nominations through the White House and Sen. Joe Manchin. While he progresses through the West Point nomination process, Farkas will enlist in the West Virginia National Guard. He's considering a couple of different career paths, including combat engineer or cavalry scout.
"I'm looking at a couple of different units, but I think joining the National Guard will help me along my path to go to West Point," Farkas said. "But it's not just all about that. In the end, I want to serve not only my country but also my state, and I feel like the West Virginia National Guard is the best way to do that."
The road to West Point is not an easy one. The academy is extremely selective, and candidates must meet stringent standards even to be considered for appointment. Students must score a 1340 on the SAT or a 29 on the ACT, complete a Candidate Questionnaire and submit a School Official Evaluation that includes four letters of recommendation from teachers. They also must demonstrate leadership or community service through programs like Boys or Girls State, pass a physical fitness test and secure a nomination. Each Congressional representative and U.S. Senator can nominate up to 10 candidates to each Service Academy. Children of military veterans and JROTC cadets can seek service-connected nominations through the White House.
Farkas' dad served in the Army’s 586th Engineer Company, allowing Farkas to receive a service-connected nomination. He's also hopeful he can obtain another service-connected nomination through his enlistment in the WVNG. He received as second nomination from Sen. Manchin on Monday, and he’s applied for nominations from Sen. Shelley Moore Captio and Rep. David McKinley as well.
"It is very strenuous and more involved than I think other college applications would be," Farkas said. "Compared to another state college or private college, applying to a Service Academy requires many other aspects of a candidate's life to be put on record."
Farkas has shown his leadership skills from a young age, his mother Rhonda said, so she's not surprised he has set his sights on West Point.
"He's a natural leader," she said. "It comes to him naturally, and he loves it naturally. He gets nervous talking to people, but his dad has guided him along the way, and he has taught him to work hard and to put his whole heart into it and not let obstacles hold him back."
Will, his dad, and younger brother abide by a quote from Thomas Edison that says, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." That quote has motivated Farkas and his brother to try hard in all aspects of life.
"I have never seen a more hard-working group of three young men like my husband and these two boys," Rhonda Farkas said. "They're always out working on our farm, and I think that's where he has learned this leadership role is from his dad. He's not even trying to do that; he just picked it up naturally. As soon as he was given the opportunity to be a leader at 11 years old at VFW camp at Camp Dawson, he was thriving."
Because of his leadership, Farkas excelled in his 22 weeks at Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy and earned several awards, including the Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Cadet Award and Adjutant General's Award for Academic Excellence. Farkas said the structure of the MCA program helped him define his goals and gave him the confidence to obtain them.
"MCA-South boosted my confidence and focus in ways that I hadn't really experienced before," he said. "The structured environment, the staff, the way they keep us on the straight and narrow path, really helped me find what I was meant to do with my life. I was focused in school and didn't have a problem with grades or extracurriculars. I was a successful student and athlete, but MCA-South gave me much more than that. It helped to develop my character and show me what a true leader looks like."
"I cannot say enough about MCA," said Rhonda Farkas. "They are the most wonderful, caring, kind, loving people we have ever come across in a school environment. The staff introduced him to the National Guard, and that's when he started to focus on West Point because that's when he started to really believe in himself."
Farkas is grateful to the staff and cadets at Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy-South for their support as he pursues a career in the U.S. military.
"I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for their support and their enthusiasm for what I want to do with my life," he said.
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