WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School senior Jonathan Roberson has committed to West Point Military Academy Preparatory School and will spend one year as a cadet in order to hone his academic and athletic skills prior entering the military academy.

"Before I could remember, the military has been a big influence in my life," said Roberson. "My mother was in the Army for eleven years and has been serving in the Air Force for nine years. She is the reason for my strict upbringing and has been the motivating force behind me in this process.”

When Roberson told his mother at six years old that he wanted to go to West Point, he said she took it as a joke, as he was "only a child with no clue of the hard work and determination that was needed to achieve that goal." But as time progressed, he said, it became apparent to both Roberson and his mother that he did have the determination and work ethic required at West Point.

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"In my junior year at West Orange High School, my mother signed me up for Air Force JROTC,” he said. "It was not something I necessarily wanted to do, but I did it without hesitation."

Although he initially thought he wanted to join the Air Force, Roberson said he changed his mind after attending West Point's Summer Leaders Experience.

"I was very impressed by the camaraderie and leadership,” he said. "There, I learned that I had to work well with other groups, have perseverance, be able to maintain my academic and social responsibilities and more. I willingly accepted and worked to achieve all of these things, wanting to be the best leader I can.”

In addition to his participation in ROTC, Roberson also plays football and lacrosse for WOHS and plans to major in engineering psychology at West Point.

"Attending the United States Military Academy is not supposed to be easy, and yet it produces some of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen,” said Roberson. “It provides you with the knowledge you need to be a moral individual and a leader in society.

"I want to acquire the skills that many before me have in hopes that one day I can use them—on active duty or not—to better the life of someone else. To me, it is more than the rank; this is something that is going to impact the rest of my life."