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At West Point, Fairfax High grad makes history as first African-American female top cadet

“I really strive to be able to invest in others and share the experiences that I have," said Simone Askew. (Courtesy U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON — It’s a first at West Point: An African-American woman is leading the Corps of Cadets this school year.

And that woman, Simone Askew, is from the D.C. area.

The 20-year-old cadet began her new role atop the cadet chain of command Monday at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. In her new position as the first captain, she oversees about 4,400 cadets.

“So definitely an honor to be selected,” said Askew, an international history major.

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Askew grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, before moving to Fairfax County, Virginia, where she attended Lanier Middle School and then Fairfax High School.

Even though she is making history, Askew remains humble.

“I wouldn’t even consider myself a trailblazer,” she said, “because there are so many women before me who have really set the way and kind of guided my path.”

One of those women is Askew’s own mother, who calls her daughter a natural-born leader. She and the rest of the cadet’s family will visit soon to celebrate the historic honor with her in person.

“My mom is very excited, as is my dad and a lot of my family members as well,” she said. “So they will be coming up to school next weekend, and I’m really excited to see them and kind of see their faces instead of just hearing them over the phone.”

For Askew, her focus is “just to give back as much as people have given me — as much as people have invested in me.”

“I really strive to be able to invest in others and share the experiences that I have,” she added.

One of her goals, she said, is to seek out advice. She calls it “intellectual humility.”

“There are things that I do know well, but there’s also a lot of things that I don’t know,” she said. “But I’m not satisfied with not knowing them … because leadership is really an ongoing process.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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