MEET A VIRGINIAN: Simone Askew–Fairfax Proud

West Point First Captain one of Top 10 College Women of the Year

Success and achievement are nothing new for Fairfax native Simone Askew. In August 2017 the then-20-year-old became the first African-American woman named to the position of First Captain at West Point–the leader of all 4,400 cadets. As first captain, the international studies major, who graduated this past May, was responsible for the performance of the entire Corps of Cadets, of which about 20 percent are women. Her duties included implementing a class agenda and acting as liaison between the cadets and the administration.

But she wasn’t done. In June she was named one of Glamour Magazine’s ten 2018 College Women of the Year. Asked about her success by the magazine, Askew replied:

People ask me, “What’s it feel like to be the first black woman in your position?” And I’m like, “The same way it felt to be a black woman for the past 21 years.” I’m sensitive to how I perceive others because I’ve been frustrated with the limitations of how people perceive me.

She disclosed to Glamour that she was sexually assaulted during basic training at West Point. The magazine asked her about being in a “boys’ club” environment:

The biggest aspect of the assault I struggled with was not the assault itself but the sense of not being in control of my environment or circumstances. That was not something I was used to…. The most important thing for us is to not define West Point as a boys’ club. The boys aren’t in charge here. I’m in charge. For me, it’s about, How can we be good to one another? I’m focused on incorporating into our curriculum what right looks like, instead of just avoiding what wrong looks like. [Emphasis added.]

Last November, Askew was one of 32 students in the United States to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. One hundred Rhodes Scholars are selected worldwide. The scholarships are worth about $68,000 a year and cover postgraduate studies at Oxford University in England.

It would seem we can look forward to even greater accomplishments down the road.



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