The class of 2020 is a resilient lot for enduring through the new normal that the COVID-19 quarantine provided while finishing their studies. Among the many graduates is Cadet Iwonka Niscior, who valiantly worked to better herself while studies at the West Point Military Academy.
She was inspired to attend by her older brother, Robert, who also attended West Point. The University has a program for high school juniors called the Summer Leadership Experience (SLE) that Niscior attended which helped her make the decision to apply.
“Mostly what first got me was the people, my SLE leadership was run by cadets,” Niscior said. “He really inspired me.”
Niscior enjoyed how West Point admissions vetted out the entire applicant. In high school, she was dedicated to numerous student groups and put them before her school work at times.
“I was captain of this and president of that,” Niscior said. “What I super appreciated about West Point is that they looked at the applicant as a whole, it wasn’t just what you put on paper.”
As a freshman, she was a walk on for the women’s Rugby team and her brother was on the men’s team that year. The teams would have practice at the same time and his teammates would cheer for her.
“He goes by ‘Rob,’” Niscior said about her brother. “All of his teammates would as they see me running down the field and they would just start screaming “Rob!” It was funny and I loved it.”
The women’s rugby coach Bill Leclerc told her that the skills she learned playing soccer and running track in high school would make her a good rugby player.
Niscior will be graduating with a degree in French, which is her third language. Her long term goal is to become a Foreign Area Officer. Growing up, Niscior took Polish language classes. Since then she developed a fear of learning languages but overcame it when she started attending West Point.
“I just decided it would be in my best interest to conquer that anxiety,” Niscior said. “So hopefully I do become a foreign area officer, I’m able to use my skills and the knowledge that I gained from the Foreign Language department.”
Her father is from Poland, and her mother is from Peru, despite the differences in the two cultures, they both share the same values according to Niscior. In high school, she visited some of her maternal family members in France; the visit inspired her to learn French.
The diversity she experienced being a native of Southern California helped her know how to communicate with the people she works with at West Point.
“Learning how to listen to new ideas and understanding people that come from backgrounds that I’m not necessarily familiar with was not too much of an adjustment,” Niscior said.
One of the most challenging assignments Niscior had to complete is the Cadet Leader Development Training (CLDT). Cadets spend 14 days in the woods completing missions, they would spend the night out in the woods and cadets would take shifts looking after the group overnight. Niscior noted how CLDT was “extremely physically demanding.”
“It’s almost like a sneak peak of Ranger school … the Ranger school is what I’m aspiring to do hopefully in the future,” she said. “Everyone has the opportunity to lead and conduct a mission.”
During her time at West Point, Niscior was a member of the cheer squad the Rabble Rousers and competed in Sandhurst competitions. She also worked with coaches in the weight room, helping athletes from the football, soccer and lacrosse teams with their nutrition and exercise.
“I didn’t come to West Point to play one sport,” Niscior said. “I wanted to try as many things as I could because West Point has literally so many things to offer.”
West Point will conduct their graduation on June 13. For more information, visit https://www.westpoint.edu/graduation2020.