College bound high school students frequently receive letters of acceptance from colleges of their choice sometimes at colleges that are not only tough to get into, but require more than just your normal college application to get in. Lee Bierman, an exceptional Washington High School student, is in an even more rare category of those with the intelligence and initiative to graduate an entire year early to move on with his goals in life.
Bierman, for all intents and purposes, would be completing his junior year of high school this month. Instead, he has driven himself to take all the necessary classes to graduate one year early.
He is the son of Kari Steffen and Mark Bierman of Cherokee. He is 17 years old with a 3.8 GPA. He is involved in a multitude of different activities that include his recent performance as Van Helsing in 'Countess Dracula'. He plays baseball and has participated in Varsity Debate for the last three years.
He attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence and Diplomacy. He also works part time at Radio Shack and voluteers as a referee for youth soccer and baseball games. He was in the National Guard until recently being discharged upon being accepted to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.
The road to West Point has been a rocky and challenging journey. The Cherokee School Board has to approve early graduation based on fulfilling all the requirements and the Board didn't approve his request for early graduation until this past December. The state quits taking recommendations for early graduation in November. Bierman had to fast track his request to the state for early graduation. In order to graduate early you have to get letters of recommendations just to get another letter of recommendation from a congressmen to graduate.
It wasn't easy getting through the right channels to graduate early and if it weren't for some letters of recommendations he received from a Brigadier General and a Major General that he had worked with in the National Guard he would have missed getting permission from the state. Those same Generals sent letters of recommendation to every Congressmen in the state. To make matters worse the state lost his request and he had redo all the paperwork within 24 hours and fax it directly to Congressmen Steve King.
After getting over that hurdle he was handed more obstacles. Most students wanting to apply for admission to the United States Military Academy start the process near the end of their junior year in high school. Now that Bierman had essentially gotten to that point he had to rush his application to the academy which he completed within one month. The lengthy application included essays, three letters of recommendations from teachers and one from the principal and much more.
Now that he has successfully completed the process he has been officially accepted to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. The academy then sent Bierman an extensive list of things he had to have and get done prior to arriving on campus on June 26 of this year. He had to get an army medical exam, do an army physical fitness test and take his ACT test, of which, he scored a 30. He has gone through his fifth or sixth police records check, done his request for transcripts and had a number of immunizations.
As he approaches actual graduation day, he has a few more items on his agenda to complete the process. When asked why he kept at it after the set backs, he said he decided that he had brought it this far, he might as well take it all the way.
Bierman has lofty goals for his life. He says he has always wanted to serve his country since he was young and his academic abilities allowed him enter the academy.
He plans on majoring in history at the academy and when he graduates he will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with a minimum five year commitment to the Army. He says he plans to make a career of the Army and won't retire until he earns rank as a General. During his career he would like to be able to go to countries like Thailand, Italy and China.
He says his mom was a little apprehensive about his decision to join the military but has come around. His dad was very proud of him and would be no matter what he decided to do. Bierman's family doesn't have an extensive military history but his grandfather did serve in the Navy during the Korean War.
Bierman says it will be tough not spending what would have been his senior year with his friends and family. He did, however, say, "I am looking forward to being challenged in an environment where people depend on each other." He loves the thought of teamwork and working toward common goals.
He also says that he has been working on developing some better study habits because he knows college courses will be quite different than high school. He knows academics will not come to him as easily as they have in high school. The experience will not all be serious and academics. He says he is looking forward to being able to see the ocean.