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Beau Hilland was an Academy 8th grader on September 11, 2001. The events of that day had a tremendous impact on Beau, and he decided that after high school, he would enlist in the military.

“It was my sister who ultimately convinced me to apply to college,” he recalls. But, it was Academy College Guidance Counselor Donna White who told the then-junior how he could achieve both of these goals, simultaneously. “Ms. White presented an option to attend college and serve in the military at her alma mater, West Point,” he says.

Less than three weeks after graduating from Albuquerque Academy, Beau began basic training at the United States Military Academy, West Point. In 2010, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Beau’s first assignment was as a platoon leader of a 25-soldier mechanized, combat engineer platoon out of Fort Carson, CO when he deployed with them in 2011 to Iraq. After returning to Fort Carson from Iraq 12 months later, Beau deployed to Afghanistan for nine months where he served as the executive officer of the same 103-soldier company. Beau’s been back in the US since November, 2013, attending Engineer Captain’s School during the day and working on a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Missouri in the evening. Beau has several options following graduate school but will focus on preparing to lead his own company.

Beau says he recently did a Google search for “great American novels” and the search returned a list of novels he had already been introduced to at the Academy. “I immediately thought about the lessons and comments from various teachers at the Academy,” he recalls. “I realized, that consistent with the school’s mission statement, they had been preparing me all along to serve country and community with wisdom, conviction, and compassion. The Academy never formally explained how to meet the intent of their mission statement through any specific profession I chose, or even what that profession should be. They simply allowed me to explore my natural passions.”