A young Malaysian recently made the nation proud when he graduated from the prestigious United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York
Suhanraj Rajasegaran was one of the 953 cadets who graduated on 21 May during the Class of 2016 Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony at Michie Stadium, West Point.
They represented approximately 78% of the cadets who entered West Point in the summer of 2012.
Suhanraj was one of the 11 international cadets who graduated from the Class of 2016. He is also the first Malaysian of Indian descent to graduate from one of the best military academies in the world.
What makes an admission to the USMA so special?
Each year, West Point receives thousands of applications for admission to USMA, but only a few are accepted. West Point demands that applicants not only excel academically but demonstrate leadership potential, and be physically and mentally competent.
"West Point wants leaders who are not only intelligent, who are physically fit and of outstanding character," the website reads.
Not only is it highly competitive to get an admission to USMA but every single person who wants to be enrolled must be at the top of their game because only up to 60 international cadets may study at West Point at any given time.
There were only 15 international cadets that were admitted to Class of 2016, including two cadets each from Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, and one cadet each from Bulgaria, Gabon, Guyana, Haiti, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Thailand.
In 2012, Suhanraj made headlines when he was selected to receive a RM800,000 scholarship to study at West Point, New York
Four years ago, the then 20-year-old was one of the two young Malaysians who received scholarships to study undergraduate degree programmes at renowned service academies in the United States. They were chosen from hundreds of candidates from 158 countries.
The other Malaysian was Chan Jun Kwan, who was the top graduate of the Royal Military College (RMC) from Alor Setar. He received a full scholarship to study at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
When he was awarded with the scholarship in 2012, Suhanraj described the opportunity as a dream come true
The 24-year-old had said then that he had always wanted to emulate his father’s footsteps and join the army.
"But he tells me, 'Aim higher, aim to be more than just a warrant officer. With discipline, good health and hard work, you can achieve whatever your heart sets out to do'," Suhanraj told The Star Online in 2012.
Suhanraj's achievement is no small feat as only 20 Malaysians have graduated from various US service academies since 1991
Syed Nasir Alsagoff Syed Zakariah was the first ever Malaysian who was chosen to attend the United States Military Academy, West Point in 1987.
Speaking exclusively to SAYS, Suhanraj said that he will be returning to Malaysia to report to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)
Suhanraj is currently taking a break, and he will be coming back to Malaysia by the end of June. Upon his return, he will be reporting to the MINDEF, where he will undergo some interviews conducted by the ministry.
"I have a former Malaysian West Point graduate as my mentor to help me through the process as I am coping and familiarising myself with the Malaysian military system."
"Though I have the same knowledge as every graduate of West Point on the U.S. Military, I have very little knowledge about the Malaysian military. So, it will be a rough transition initially but I'll have to catch up fast," he told SAYS.
"I am sticking with what's near and dear to me, Malaysia."
Our heartiest congratulations, Suhanraj! Way to go!