COHOCTON — While many teens are enjoying the beginning of their summer vacation, Mackenzie Curtin will be reporting for the beginning of her service and education at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Mackenzie is the daughter of Dr. Daniel and Michelle Curtin of Cohocton and a sister Meghan Curtin.
Inspired by the service she saw two “uncles” dedicating themselves toward, Mackenzie knew pretty early on she wanted to serve her country in some capacity. For a long time she has been working toward acquiring the skills and the resume that would make that pursuit an option for her.
Both Wayland-Cohocton graduates, Jason Fahy attended the Naval Academy and is still an officer in the Navy and Ryan Fahy went into the Army attending the University of Maryland. He is now employed with another government agency. Both men are actually Mackenzie’s father’s cousins, but because of closeness and age difference, she grew up thinking of them as uncles. They both have served as resources for her during this challenging process.
“I’m also fortunate to have parents who encouraged me to pursuit whatever I was interested in,” said Curtin. “They took the time and resources to see that I was able to try out new things and discover what interests me most. They have also been supportive through this demanding process and in making my final decisions.” And, there were a number of options to choose from as Mackenzie was also accepted into the United States Coast Guard Academy and five other university engineering programs. She will be majoring in chemical engineering at West Point.
The United States Military Academy’s mission is to “educate, train and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of duty, honor, country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the United States Army. The Academy provides a superb four-year education, which focuses on the leader development of cadets in the academic, military and physical domains, all under written by an adherence to of a code of honor.”
The road to acceptance at West Point was rigorous and arduous. Cadets must meet age and health requirements and be able to pass the standard military medical exam. Physical requirements require above average strength, agility and endurance and a strong performance on the West Point Candidate Fitness Assessment. Attendance at the academy is predominately male with only 2,800 women attending in the 13,0827 students; and 70 percent of enrollees were in the top fifth of their graduating class. All have exhibited outstanding academic performance and been exceptional leaders in extracurricular activities.
Curtin who is the Class of 2018 Valedictorian at Wayland-Cohocton exemplifies the meaning of academic and leadership excellence. She has challenged herself with accelerated college and Advanced Placement classes and enrolled in independent study opportunities when classes did not fit into her schedule. She is an AP Scholar and was awarded many junior scholarship opportunities. She has consistently been a member of scholar athlete teams and been on the academic honor roll.
“I’ve been very fortunate to live in a community where I have had the opportunity to take part in a wide-range of activities,” Curtin said. “The ability to succeed here is possible with hard work and commitment. I have had many teachers who have pushed me to learn more and allowed me to find a way to engage in their programs even when they didn’t fit in my schedule.” Often her drive to meet goals has meant setting other more leisurely pursuits aside. The trade-off is having the opportunity to purse her dreams.
Curtin has excelled in athletics and was a member of the 2016 Section V swimming sectional team. She currently holds the school records in the 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay. She has been varsity swim captain and All Star since 2015. She is a four-year member of varsity track. Curtin also played club hockey and has been captain since 2016.
Curtin is vice present of the senior class, president her junior year and currently serves as Student Council treasurer. She attended the West Point Summer Leadership Experience in 2017 and was a Girls State nominee in 2017 but was unable to attend due to a conflict. She has served as a Freshman Mentoring Council member as well. Curtin also is the founder of All Dressed Up, a program that provides formal dresses to high schoolers for balls, proms and other events.
Much of her time has been spent pitching in and helping out as an Eagle Pal, Student Council member, freshman mentor and as a volunteer coach in hockey and the summer swimming. She is a Padi-certified scuba diver. She has worked as a lifeguard at Letchworth State Park and the Wayland-Cohocton Adult Education Program. She has also been a swim lesson instructor.
While it is easy to see that Curtin has been productive, a leader, and an outstanding academic; she still needed to procure a congressional nomination from a representative in Congress, one of two US Senators or the vice present of the United States. This required submitting the application demonstrating her outstanding leadership, work ethic and academic performance. Mackenzie received her nomination from Congressman Tom Reed. While Curtin was working through the nomination process she was also balancing the requirements to pass the military physical including numerous appointments and follow-up submissions.
When she reports July 2 she will be participating in Cadet Basic Training. Her academic studies will begin at the end of the summer on the traditional academic calendar. Her attendance at the academy is highly structured and there aren’t the opportunities to trip home as much as some other options. Her parents are beginning their education in discovering what it means to be West Point parents and looking forward to the new experiences it will bring them as a family.