Person of the Week: Simone Askew
Representation matters. This young black man got the courage to reach for the stars because those who looked like him proved it was possible.
First Captain Simone Askew of the United States Military Academy is special. This past weekend she became the first African American Woman to lead West Point during the March-On ceremony that precedes the annual Army-versus-Navy football. Army won on a last-second field goal, in the snow...in case you’re wondering.
Why am I captivated by the 20-year-old cadet? It’s because growing up most of my heroes looked like me - Hence why I found myself misinformed about my prospects to become a professional athlete (story for another day) - As a young child I gravitated toward individuals blazing trails through their thoughts, morals and actions, often finding myself reaching for pieces of them in the things I did.
Askew, raised by a single mother, was drawn to the military after watching the Walk-On ceremony performed by the Naval Academy as a young child. I wonder how many young girls who look like her, who maybe share similar backgrounds, will use the visual of her leading our country’s finest as a reason to believe in themselves. In an era where the call for representation is at an all-time high, accomplishments such as this stand to have monumental significance for the rest of time.
And then there’s a look into the woman behind the uniform. Askew is a Rhodes Scholar, the highest merit scholarship in the world, with plans to take part in two one-year masters programs at Oxford University.
At 20 years old Simone Askew stands to be the inspiration for more than just a generation of young girls. Because she’s the highest ranking cadet at West Point. Because she’s a Rhodes Scholar. Because she’s black. Because she’s a woman. And because representation matters.