KUALA LUMPUR: Four top students of the Royal Military College (RMC) and National Defence University (UPNM) have gained admission to prestigious military academies in the United States.
The four received their acceptance letters from US military personnel at a ceremony at the US embassy today.
Three candidates — Muhammad Salihin Mohd Sabri, Sayniish Pillay Muniandy and Wan Kamal Fitri Wan Kamal — are graduates of UPNM while Ahmad Yusuf Ahmad Azani passed out from RMC.
Salihin has been accepted into the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs. Sayniish and Wan Kamal will enter the US Military Academy at West Point (Usma) in New York.
Yusuf will attend the US Naval Academy (Usna) in Annapolis, Maryland.
They will attend four-year degree programmes at their respective academies.
Present during the ceremony were officials of the defence ministry, Malaysian alumni of the US academies and family members of the cadets.
Yusuf, 19, said the different culture and environment would not hinder his responsibility as a Muslim.
“I believe the academy is very accepting and tolerant of different cultures and religious backgrounds,” he told FMT.
Yusuf, who was active in English debating teams at RMC, said he was proud to be the only successful candidate this year to represent the college at the international military academy.
Sayniish, from Taiping, Perak, said he was fortunate to be selected from thousands of applicants and proud to represent Malaysia at the US military academy.
“I will show them what a Malaysian can do,” promised Sayniish, who was an active rugby player at UPNM.
His proud mother, S Jaya Muniandy, 56, said it was her son’s dream of becoming part of the military since he was small.
“My son has been very interested in joining the armed forces and he has finally achieved his ambition.”
Salihin, 19, expected training at the US air force academy to be challenging but was confident he would be able to cope.
“The fitness of the cadets will be challenging as well,” said Salihin, who is looking forward to playing in the tennis team at the academy.
Naturally, as an air force cadet, Salihin is a big fan of Top Gun, the 1980s Hollywood movie about a hotshot fighter pilot starring Tom Cruise.
He admitted he was a bit sad at not being able to celebrate Hari Raya with his family this year as he would be abroad.
“But I believe that there is always a first time for everything.”
Wan Kamal, who is entering West Point, said social skills would be important to be able to adapt to the new environment and culture.
“Cadets from outside the US should be able to mix and communicate with others in the academy if they want to do well,” said Wan Kamal.
The US embassy’s chargé d’ affaires, Edgard Kagan, said the admission of cadets into the American service academies would be an opportunity for them to learn more about American military life besides helping to strengthen the bonds between the two countries.
He said since 1991, 23 Malaysians had graduated from various US service academies.
“It is rare that four Malaysian cadets are chosen to attend US military service academies in a single year.”
Among the Malaysian alumni from US military service academies present at today’s ceremony was Acting Sub Lieutenant Chan Jun Kwan of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).
Chan, who graduated from Usna last year, said he believed Yusuf was the best candidate to be selected out of the many who applied from Malaysia this year.
“He’s an outstanding candidate and I believe RMC has prepared him well enough to excel at Usna,” said Chan.
US military academies receive about 17,000 applications from all over the world each year but only 10% make the cut.