CARTHAGE — A Carthage Central High School JROTC student has accepted an appointment to West Point Military Academy.
Cadet Lorissa Miller, who was also offered an Army ROTC scholarship, said she first decided she wanted to go to West Point when in middle school.
“My parents and I were talking about future plans and what I wanted to do when I grew up,” Lorissa said. “I mentioned wanting to be in the Army, because it had been really the only life I knew, with both my mom and step dad being soldiers, as well as both of my grandparents on my mom’s side. Once I told my parents this, they kind of pushed me toward the officer path and going to college. We researched colleges and came across West Point.”
The JROTC cadet said what attracted her to West Point was the “great academic program” and the sports requirement.
“I liked that all cadets are required to do some sort of sport, because sports have always been a major part of my life,” she said. “Throughout the beginning of high school, West Point was always somewhere I wanted to go, but I did not actually start to be serious about West Point until I joined JROTC and my friend went to Summer Leaders Experience at West Point. She told me these great stories about the culture at West Point and what it was like to be there, and I knew that is where I wanted to go.”
Lorissa is the daughter and step daughter of Jessica L. and Michael P. Bushell of Fort Drum. Athletically, she participates in the school’s soccer, volleyball and track teams.
According to LTC (Ret.) Thomas Piroli, senior Army instructor of the Carthage Army JROTC Program, earning an appointment to West Point is extremely difficult.
“Typically only 12% of applicants are offered appointments,” the instructor said. “West Point looks for scholar, athlete, leaders. Most winners are in the top 10% of their class academically and score over 1300 on their SAT. They are also in most cases varsity athletes, team captains, class officers or club presidents. They must also excel on a rigorous physical fitness test to be seriously considered.”
In addition, women were not always allowed to attend — the West Point Class of 1980 was the first to include female cadets. Last year, four female cadets — out of a total 229 in the Class of 2020 — were commissioned into the infantry, according to an Army article.
The appointment also involves a Congressional nomination.
In her nomination letter, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik told Lorissa, “Your dedication to academics, extracurricular activities, involvement in the community and commitment to serve your country were deciding factors in our nomination process.”
Lorissa is a member of the Key Club and the 12 Honors Class through which she has participated in many volunteer activities. In the past has been a member stage crew and Welcome Club.
Lorissa has been in JROTC for three years and is currently a major serving as the S3 — operations and training officer.
According to the JROTC instructor, Lorissa has been “an outstanding cadet” and ”has excelled this year as our battalion’s Operation and Training Officer.”
“Lorissa is exactly the type of quality person and leader the military needs,” LTC Piroli said. “She will absolutely excel at West Point and become a successful Army officer.”
The cadet major said JROTC has taught her many things, both military and personally.
“I learned how to be a good leader, how to make decisions and how to effectively solve problems,” she said “I also learned things like how to march and stay physically active. I always recommend that people join JROTC even if they do not want to join the Army, because it is so fun, you meet so many great people and you learn important life skills. I joined JROTC mainly because I wanted to go into the military, and also because a lot of my friends suggested that I join.”
LTC Piroli said upon graduation from West Point, cadets will be commissioned as Army Second Lieutenants and have an eight-year military commitment where they must serve the first five years on active duty and can serve their remaining three years in the reserves.
“As junior military officers, they will receive the best leadership training, opportunities, and experiences in the world,” LTC Piroli said. “They will also have the privilege of serving their country and leading Americas sons and daughters. They will become members of one of the most well respect professions in America.”
Lorissa plans to study Law and Legal Studies or American politics at West Point.
“I hope to be in the military until retirement and I hope to be able to eventually be a part of the JAG core,” she said. “I would love to be a lawyer in the military, and maybe even become a judge.”
Army JROTC is a Leadership Development program with the mission to “motivate young people to be better citizens.” The program teaches students the value of leadership, community service, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment while instilling self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline. JROTC does not recruit students to join the military and there is no military obligation for being in JROTC, but many cadets at Carthage are interested in going into the military.