Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 2.50.28 PMOn this, the day before Manchester’s four high school graduation ceremonies, we are celebrating all that our students have accomplished. Every graduate has much to be proud of when they look back on their high school years and what it took to reach this important milestone. We want members of our community to meet some of the students who will cross the stage tomorrow to received their hard-earned diplomas. These are the stories that we hope will inspire others in the goals they set and the choices they make. It’s our annual reminder of why the pomp and circumstance really matters.

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The Blackhawks flew so low, he could feel the wind from the chopper blades as they went by. Then he watched in awe as air assault trainees jumped into the Hudson River.

That was just part of Jarrod Broussard’s introduction to life at West Point that cemented his decision to complete the application.  The Summer Leaders Experience last year was a chance for prospective cadets like Jarrod to get a taste of what going to college at the U.S. Military Academy is like. He was one of 1,000 high school juniors selected for the opportunity out of 6,000 who applied.

During the experience, Jarrod stayed in a West Point dorm, met current cadets, took part in various military trainings, played intramural sports, and took sample classes with professors.

“I genuinely did not want to leave at the end of the week,” Jarrod said. “It was scary to walk away and think, ‘Gosh, I hope I get the chance to come back here.’”

Jarrod’s eagerness to attend West Point is surprising when one considers that the academy wouldn’t have crossed Jarrod’s radar in the college selection process if not for a survey he took as an 8th grader at Southside Middle School. The questions focused on students’ interests and strengths. West Point was on the list of colleges the survey results suggested he consider, but he really didn’t know much about it or what it had to offer.

It was only later, when Jarrod did some research and thought about it through his freshman and sophomore years at Memorial High School, that he figured applying to West Point could be a real possibility.

“I knew I liked sciences, engineering and math,” Jarrod said. “Those programs are really strong at West Point.”

But applying to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is no simple task. While there are traditional elements to the process – submitting SAT scores, writing an essay, gathering letters of recommendation – there are additional requirements, including securing a nomination from a member of the applicant’s Congressional delegation.

“Requesting a nomination to a military academy from your senators or U.S. representative essentially means submitting a mini application,” Jarrod said.

Staff from the offices of Senators Shaheen and Ayotte and Representative Guinta interviewed Jarrod separately in the final step of the nomination process.  While only one congressional nomination is required, Jarrod received nominations from all three.

Another part of the West Point application for admission is a physical test, which was administered by Memorial’s phys ed teacher. Jarrod knew what he was in for because he took the test during his visit last summer.

“The physical portion intimidated me the most,” he said. “I watched guys do 20 pull-ups while I struggled to do two or three. Other guys crushed the mile run when I was feeling sick to my stomach at the end.”

Still, Jarrod says the physical demands of being a cadet doesn’t keep him from wanting to attend West Point.

“It’s part of the experience. When you choose West Point, everything about you will be challenged. That will just my toughest challenge.”

Jarrod passed the physical test on the second try.

Once his full application had been submitted, like every other college applicant, Jarrod waited to hear if he would be accepted. Word came one evening in March.

“I got in the car after hockey practice and saw I had three missed calls,” he said.

One right after the other, voicemails from the offices of Shaheen, Ayotte and Guinta congratulated him on his admission to West Point.

“I couldn’t help tearing up,” Jarrod said. “It was a great moment, and you don’t get to feel that all the time.”

An important part of Jarrod’s life that shapes his perspective is martial arts, which he’s practiced for 11 years. He calls his instructor at Granite State Kenpo in Hudson the most consistently positive role model who has taught him so much as a person, including self-esteem, pride, self-control, and respect for others. Jarrod is a black belt.

“I can’t think of the person I’d be without it,” he said.

At Memorial, Jarrod plays the euphonium – “Think of it as a baby tuba” – for a fun, creative activity, but he admires his fellow student musicians with more serious talent.

“Kids who are top tier in music are amazing.”

He also plays hockey. This year he was the starting goalie, and while they didn’t get as far as they wanted in the playoffs, he’s proud of the Crusaders’ season.

Jarrod reports to West Point on June 27 where he’ll start basic training before the academic year begins.

“I teeter every day between ‘I can’t wait to get there’ and ‘What have I gotten into?’” Jarrod said. “But I know it’s the best place for me. It’s the right choice.”

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