Leaving home for college is not easy, and first year West Point cadets are challenged in ways that typical university freshmen will never face. But, cadets do not conquer these challenges alone. Every West Point cadet has a sponsor and access to numerous mentors, all of whom have successfully overcome the challenges of being a cadet. At West Point, we are a team dedicated to the spirit of winning – sponsorship is just one of the ways we make that a reality.
The sponsorship program is the opportunity to bring cadets into your house, to give them kind of a safe environment, to get away from that cadet area, and to get into your homes for a warm meal, to do laundry, to relax and watch TV. Everyone gets a chance to sponsor cadets. Faculty and staff, specifically, the faculty in the academic department get the opportunity to formally sponsor cadets.
We do host about 30 international cadets at West Point at any given time for a four year basis. They literally come from every corner of the globe. And it's really cool to welcome them into our homes and school.
As a cadet, we deal with a lot of stressful situations day to day academics, physical and military pillars. Virginia is not too far of a drive, but it's still enough to where you can't just go home anytime. So being able to come to an officer's house, and enjoy dinner, and just relax really de-stresses us, and gives us that home away from home feeling. Major Absalon and Mrs Absalon are great. They just make us feel comfortable, right at home.
So what I get most out of sponsoring or mentoring cadets is the same thing I got out of it when I was on the other end. And my sponsor picked me up out of R-Day, three weeks into basic training. He's now a colonel who promoted me last week, who's now back here teaching.
So that's 14 years later we still maintain an entirely-- or incredibly close bond over those years, and I see that happening with myself and some of these cadets in the future. Naomi and I don't have any kids right now, so it's great to kind of bring them into your homes and kind of talk about their hopes and dreams, and years from now to kind of see where they develop and where they go. So just that the opportunity for a long term bond is incredibly rewarding and worth it.