Photo: Georgia Gwinnett College Michael Menelas is the first Georgia Gwinnett College cadet to be appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- A student cadet at Georgia Gwinnett College has accomplished something that would make the institution's former president proud.
Michael Menelas earned the distinct honor of becoming GGC's first cadet to be appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point -- the institution where former president Dan Kaufman once served as chief academic officer and dean of the academic board.
Menelas plans to major in biology and will begin his studies at West Point this month. The U.S. Military Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in West Point, N.Y.
A highly selective institution, West Point accepted only nine percent of applicants in 2012.
"I am pursuing an Army career because it offers everything," Menelas said. "This path will provide me with the opportunity to help others and make a positive difference in the world while serving my country."
There are four paths to becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. Considered the most prestigious of all commission sources, West Point primarily commissions officers into full-time service in the regular army.
The institution's cadets are immersed in military customs and traditions while working toward a college degree. Upon graduation, cadets are commissioned as Army second lieutenants.
"The U.S. Army Military Academy has a solid reputation of preparing, graduating and commissioning some of America's brightest officers into full time military service in the regular army," said Scott Smathers, assistant professor of military science, GGC ROTC. "Michael is a person of high character who embodies the qualities of a potential exceptional officer."
Students at West Point are officers-in-training and are referred to as cadets or collectively as the U.S. Corps of Cadets. Tuition for cadets is fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation.
"Maj. Smathers and Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Keene, senior military instructor, influenced me greatly during my time int he GGC ROTC progam," Menelas said. "I received exceptional unbiased counsel and mentorship that allowed me to freely explore and consider all the options available."
After his four years at West Point, Menelas plans to attend graduate school and continue his army career.