PHS grad trades high heels for combat boots
PRESCOTT - Sierra Rosdahl is a self-proclaimed "girly girl."
On a summer afternoon, Sierra greets a visitor dressed in a scoop-neck black dress, silver locket necklace and bracelet paired with bejeweled high-heel cork wedges.
Pre-dawn, though, Rosdahl eschewed fashion for a pair of well-worn hiking boots and a hefty backpack for a daily trek up Thumb Butte, part of a strict mental and physical conditioning ritual.
On June 26, the 2015 Prescott High Student Council president who graduated with a 4.0 grade average will depart her hometown for "The Beast," a six-week military training camp prior to the beginning of her freshman year as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
"It's going to be different, that's for sure," said Sierra, a poised, articulate young woman with well-coiffed blond tresses she soon will have no time to pamper. "I like my dresses and high heels, but I'm trading them in for combat boots."
To the surprise of some of her friends, Rosdahl's post-graduation choice was not to one of the high-caliber East Coast colleges she visited over the course of her high school career. Rather she opted to follow in the footsteps of her older brother, Levi, earning an appointment to West Point.
Levi, also a Prescott High graduate, is entering his junior year.
But Sierra's choice was far from a whim.
She recalls the exact moment she "fell in love" with West Point.
She was a high school sophomore, and witnessed her brother marching with his fellow cadets. She said she envisioned doing likewise.
The next summer, Sierra enrolled at two summer leadership camps: one at West Point and one at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
"I liked West Point more," Sierra said, her brother's presence giving it the edge.
From that point, Sierra started an arduous, 14-month application process with the encouragement and support of teachers and counselors. West Point's criteria require a stellar high school record of academics, athletics, student leadership and two Congressional recommendations.
In high school, Sierra was a four-year Student Council leader, serving as student body president her senior year. She played basketball, badminton and was a long-distance runner on the track and field team. She was in the National Honor Society, a member of the Teenage Republican Club and served as an intern in the office of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott.
"Being accepted for admission to the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point is an exceptional honor reserved for our nation's most promising students," reads the West Point website.
West Point accepts "leaders" who are intelligent, physically fit and deemed to be "of outstanding character," the website states.
"Upon graduation and throughout your life, your West Point degree will speak volumes about your abilities, character and leadership. You will be part of a highly distinguished and internationally respected membership - a member of the Long Gray Line."
In a prominent location on the West Point campus stands a statue of one of West Point's premier graduates: the late five-star General Douglas MacArthur, who served in both World Wars and Korea.
At West Point, Sierra plans to join her brother in studying engineering; although she expects to pursue civil or systems engineering. Her brother is studying mechanical engineering. Upon graduation from the academy, both Rosdahls will be commissioned U.S. Army officers required to serve five years of active duty. During that time, Sierra said she hopes she can be trained for military intelligence.
Yet she said she will be open to all possibilities.
"It's all an adventure," Sierra said.
Sierra's brother is confident his sister, like him, will immerse herself in the many opportunities the academy has to offer. He said he has found the academy the perfect avenue to fulfill his long-held dreams of military service.
"She's pretty good about finding what she wants to do, and doing it." Levi said. "You have to love what you do to be successful in anything you do. And I think she's in a good spot to do that.
"I'm really excited she's going to be joining me," he said.
The Rosdahls' parents, Rhonda and Keith, are rightfully proud of both their children.
Rhonda Rosdahl said she knows this is a "very challenging" path, but one that will expose them to "wonderful opportunities."
"I'm proud they want to serve our country," Rosdahl concluded.
Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041, or 928-642-6809.