“I Never Walked Away From A Challenge”: Behind The Scenes In The First Class Of Women At West Point

Brenda Sue Fulton


Sue Fulton graduated from West Point in 1980, part of the first class to include women. After graduating, she served for five years as a Signal Corps Officer in Germany, and left the military after commanding a company. This interview focuses on her experiences as a Cadet at West Point, highlighting both the positive and negative aspects of being in the first class of women to be admitted to the Academy in 1976. Due to the historic nature of the Class of 1980, the media was very interested in recording the events of Cadet Basic training. She felt that a Media Day at Lake Frederick near the end of Beast summer created resentment within the class, and that the female Cadets were not considered “real women.” The women in the class were determined to be accepted, but unfortunately many endured to sexual harassment. Admitting that she was “not a prime target,” Sue was signaled out by upperclassmen who had a bet to see who could make her cry first. Unfortunately, Cadets were not the only ones who subjected her to unwanted attention; she also experienced harassment from an Officer while on a trip section. Even when she was not the target of sexual harassment, she was still exposed to blatant and vulgar discussions in the company and on tables during meals. At one point, Brigadier General Hoisington, the Commander of the Women’s Army Corps, came to West Point to talk with the women in the Corps, and encouraged them to maintain their “lady-ness.” On the positive side, she highlighted several instructors who provided valuable mentorship and guidance, including Mike Lancaster, Hobie Pilsbury, and Dan Kauffman. During her Yearling year and beyond, she assumed a role mentoring the Plebe women. At the end of the interview, she reflects on what West Point means to her.


topics West Point History Women in Service Sexual Harassment / Assault
interviewer Cadet Stephanie Shubert
date 06 April 2017


name Brenda Sue Fulton
institution USMA
graduation year 1980
service Signal Corps
unit 307th MI BN
service dates 1980 1986