Aim For The Best: Breaking Barriers And Achieving Success
Jennise Zapata was born in 1999 and spent much of her childhood with her younger sister in San Antonio, Texas, in a predominately Mexican community. Her father works as a stocker in a grocery store and her mother is a certified nurse. She enjoyed high school, although she wishes that she had been more focused. She worked at Macy’s to help provide for the family. After high school, she attended the New Mexico Military Institute and participated in ROTC. Her goal was to get an education (she was the first in her family to attend college) without incurring a lot of debt. At NMMI, she was on the Ranger Challenge team, ran marathons, and completed the Bataan Death March (memorial marathon). She was impressed by the strong women leaders she observed there and wanted to emulate them. While at NMMI, she applied to West Point, and was offered a slot at the United States Military Academy Prep School (USMAPS), which she jumped at after a conversation with her admissions officer. She was impressed that the admissions officer expressed confidence in her resilience (“someone believed in me”). She enjoyed her year at USMAPS and appreciated the diversity she found in the battalion there. During her spring break from the prep school, the COVID-19 pandemic began, and she was at home when she received her appointment to West Point. Prior to R-Day, she remembers that she and a friend yelled at each other to get themselves in the right mindset. At the Academy, she has found academics to be challenging, and has chosen to major in Business Management. She survived survival swimming and tabbed the IOCT, so she feels like she has done well physically. During her summers, she had the opportunity to intern at EMCOR and at DEOMI (Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute), where she conducted research on Latinas in the Army. At West Point she serves as a Company ACT Representative, stating, “I want to be the change” for someone who needs help or a friend to talk to. She is also involved with the Taekwondo Team and the West Point Combatives Team, and has helped start the Latina Connections club, providing opportunities for Hispanic women to celebrate their heritage. She hopes to branch Military Intelligence and wants to attend grad school in the future. She advises young people thinking about attending the Academy to “aim for the sky” while showing consistent performance and determination. She considers West Point a chance for a better life and a better future.