While the Corps of Cadets were streaming out one-by-one to enjoy the winter break, 14 cadets from the Class of 2022 had one more moment to experience before they left West Point for good as the small group graduated Dec. 16 at Crest Hall.
The Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony was more intimate than the one at Michie Stadium in the late spring when 1,014 of their classmates graduated, but the enthusiasm and vibe of the day was still as electric for the cadets who took a little longer to reach the finish line in their cadet careers. Nevertheless, the 14 cadets joined their classmates as graduates of the U.S. Military Academy and eight were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
There are various reasons why cadets take longer than the 47 months it generally takes to graduate whether it is academic, physical (medical/injury) or honor related, however, no matter the reason, these 14 cadets have now etched their names forever as members of the Long Gray Line.
Class of 2022 Cadets Trevor Lynn, Harrison Mills, Sebastien Morel, Kaden Schmittner, Sarah Traynor, Tyhier Tyler, Nathan Voell, Roger Yerger, Kyle Smith, Averi Fetrow, Cameron Kirkpatrick, Daniel Hollingsworth, Abdelaiz Gohar and Luka Nadiradze are all officially “old grads” as is the custom joke that goes among the newly graduated.
Schmittner, who was a Human and Environmental Geography major, said he was incredibly excited to finally graduate and commission.
“I have been looking forward to this day from the moment I arrived at West Point,” Schmittner said. “This opportunity is not one I take lightly, and I am eager to continue to learn, grow and lead as an officer.”
It took a little longer to get to the day he had be dreaming about, but he talked proudly of being able to persevere over the obstacles he faced.
“It has been quite a rough road for me to get to this point,” Schmittner said. “West Point has been one of the greatest challenges in my life academically, physically and emotionally. I am proud of myself for never giving up and taking it on day by day.
“I have learned many lessons in my time here,” he added, “and I have grown into the man a younger me aspired to be.”
The now 2nd Lt. Schmittner will be branching into Armor and is expected to start his Basic Officer Leadership Course on Jan. 29.
“I am very excited to be beginning my career in the Army,” Schmittner explained. “The thing I look forward to most is leading Soldiers and having the ability to create a successful team.”
But before BOLC and his career ahead, Schmittner took a moment to reflect back on the people who helped him get to this day as he overcame his own adversity at West Point.
“I would give the greatest credit to my parents, my siblings and my wonderful girlfriend for all providing me the motivation to keep working toward my goals,” he said. “I would also like to thank my many mentors, TACs (tactical officers/NCOs) and instructors I have had throughout my time here for guiding me and helping me develop.
“The one who stands out most to me is Maj. Matthew Arevian, who (administered) my commissioning ceremony,” Schmittner concluded. “He offered me a model of what a great officer looks like and has been a mind to turn to whenever I have needed guidance.”
This was the last graduation post May 21 for the Class of 2022 cadets, so the next celebration of hats skyrocketing through the air will be May 27 for the Class of 2023.