Louisiana National Guard soldier accepted into West Point
Less than one year after enlisting in the Louisiana National Guard, Pvt. Kele Bole is about to make a leap most soldiers only dream of. This summer she will join the ranks of cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Bole attended basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., after joining the Guard in March 2010.
Before enlisting, she had no plans of pursuing an education from West Point.
“I was planning to go to LSU and major in kinesiology,” said the now 18 year-old Bole, a senior at West Monroe High School. This summer Bole was scheduled to attend advanced individual training to become a combat medic and then join the 39th Military Police Company in Delhi.
Bole’s plans quickly changed after one phone call. She now anticipates reporting to the New York campus as a cadet in July.
Staff Sgt. Obie Sims recruited Bole and also approached her about applying to the prestigious academy. Over several months they worked together to complete the application and interview process.
“There are numerous opportunities in the Guard,” said Sims, “but a lot of people, even current National Guard Soldiers, don’t know about them.”
Bole said she started the application process in September and finally got the call Jan. 5.
“I had to write three essays, go through medical and physical fitness tests and get a congressional nomination. I also interviewed with Senator David Vitter (who is on the Academy board) and with another West Point graduate,” said Bole. “It was a long, stressful process.”
Congressman Rodney Alexander signed Bole’s nomination for the academy and his office made the call informing her of her acceptance.
Each year, West Point accepts 1,200 incoming freshman from approximately 15,000 applicants. Of those, only 85 seats are reserved for National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.
Even with a 4.0 GPA and on track to be class valedictorian, Bole wanted to be sure she could pursue a higher-education without worrying about the cost. So she joined the National Guard.
“I met Staff Sgt. Sims lifting weights at the gym and he always talked about the military and how much he liked being in the Guard,” Bole said.
“She never did return the wrist wraps she borrowed from me,” joked Sims, obviously proud of this young soldier.
“My grandparents were livid when I first talked about joining the military,” Bole laughed. “They thought I would get scholarships without the military and were worried about what my joining up would mean.”
Bole needed her guardians’ signatures to enlist in the Guard because she was only 17 years-old at the time.
“But they signed the papers and are very supportive and very proud of what I am doing,” she continued.
When she is not in class or working one of her two jobs, Bole also competes on West Monroe High School’s powerlifting team and serves as a student trainer for the softball team.