Meet Simone Askew, the First Black Woman First Captain at West Point

Meet the first black woman to lead the Corps of Cadets at West Point. Simone Askew became the first African American woman to earn the role of First Captain, leader of the Corps of Cadets.

Askew is responsible for the “overall performance” of all cadets and serves as a liaison between the corps and the administration.

“Simone truly exemplifies our values of Duty, Honor, Country. Her selection is a direct result of her hard work, dedication and commitment to the Corps over the last three years.”Brig. Gen. Steven W. Gilland

Even as a child Askew knew she wanted to lead. At an Annapolis football game Simone observed a Navy midshipman marching across the field and at that moment she knew what she wanted to do.

At only 20-years-old Cadet Askew leads roughly 4,400 students cadets as the cadets first captain. “My focus now is really to be the best first captain I can be regardless of gender or race, and that when the first class graduates in May… I’m remembered as a good leader and not necessarily as a good African-American female leader,” Askew told CBS news.

The United States Military Academy Preparatory School, more commonly known as West Point, was founded in 1802 and began to accept women in 1976. The selective institution has over 4000 cadets, 20 percent of which are women. Because of this disparity, the academy created a diversity office in 2014. This office’s main goal is to recruit more women and African Americans and increasing diversity among department heads and other leaders.

Just 37 years ago, West Point had its first African-American women graduates, Joy Dallas and Pat Walker Locke and now their highest ranking cadet is an African-American woman. West Point’s Corps of Cadets still consists mainly of white men, but the appointment of Simone Askew as First Captain marks progression.

Simone Askew is not only the First Captain but also a Rhodes scholar. She is among the 32 U.S. students who are selected for the prestigious scholarship out of an overwhelming pool of applicants. She is one of the only 10 African-Americans chosen, the most ever in a single Rhodes class.

After graduation, Simone plans to attend Oxford University before working in military intelligence operations.

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