Julia Farris was driving home from softball practice when she got the news.
Immediately, the 18-year-old texted her older sister Olivia: The pair had both been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“I had to pull over and call everyone I knew,” Julia said.
For most of their lives, the Farris sisters have done everything together. Growing up, the two were so close they joked they should have been born twins. A year apart in school, they both played softball at Delaware Military Academy, and for the Virginia Glory travel team.
And in the coming weeks, they’ll both be heading to West Point and playing together on the softball team.
“We’ve been each other’s best friends our whole life,” Olivia said. “It’s really cool to go through the process with your best friend.”
With a 12% acceptance rate and extensive application process, admission to West Point is difficult for one person, let alone two sisters in the same year.
This year, the Farris sisters are one of two sets of siblings entering West Point.
In addition to good grades and high test scores, West Point applicants must also undergo several rounds of interviews, and secure a nomination from senators and their congressional representative. Beyond the usual college application essays, students must also pass medical checks and fitness assessments.
This year’s West Point acceptance carries extra meaning for the sisters – for Olivia, who graduated from DMA in 2020, this year was her second time applying and getting into the military academy, after COVID-19 derailed her plans last year.
Last spring, her admission was all but complete; all she needed was a medical waiver, a common process for incoming students.
But when COVID-19 struck in March 2020, those examinations were put on hold. Unable to get a waiver, Olivia was medically disqualified from attending West Point.
West Point had been Olivia’s main goal since her freshman year at Delaware Military Academy. After talking with recruiters, she and Julia saw a life for themselves in the military. Olivia fell in love with the campus when she visited for a softball camp in high school.
Both sisters ended up being recruited to play softball at West Point.
Olivia’s plans being derailed because of COVID-19 was “heart-wrenching,” her mother Shelly Farris said.
PROM SEASON:Delaware Military Academy Prom 2021
“We just talked to her about how things happen in life, and to keep pushing and not give up on her dream,” Shelly Farris said. “We knew she deserved to be there.”
Olivia was able to attend Drexel and play softball last year. But she wasn’t able to let go of her dream of attending West Point. So, alongside her sister, she started the application process again, and got in, again.
Now, the sisters who have always been a year apart in school are looking forward to entering as cadets and making memories together.
They haven’t declared majors yet, but both are interested in pursuing medicine.
The two will be following in the footsteps of two grandfathers who were in the military, and a cousin in the Marines.
“They have so much grit and determination,” Shelly Farris said. “I think things happen for a reason and for her to be able to do this with her sister is really cool.”
Natalia Alamdari covers education at the News Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]