Pellissippi State ‘Fast Forward’ student accepted to West Point

Matthew Waldrep, a home-schooler who accrued 42 college credits in Pellissippi State’s Fast Forward Dual Enrollment program, heads to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in July. Waldrep, 18, spent the last two years taking math and science courses in preparation for applying to the prestigious military school. He was nominated to the academy by U.S. Rep. John Duncan, at left.

Matthew Waldrep, a home-school student in the Fast Forward Dual Enrollment program at Pellissippi State Community College this past spring, has been accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

To be considered for admission to West Point, candidates must meet certain academic, medical and physical requirements and must receive a nomination from an approved source. Waldrep was nominated by U.S. Rep. John Duncan and leaves for New York in July.

The 18-year-old Farragut home-schooler took Fast Forward classes for the past two academic years. Dual enrollment allows high school students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously for the same course. Nearly 2,000 area high school students participated in the program in 2011-12.

Waldrep says he has known for many years that he wanted to go to West Point, and he chose his academic path accordingly.

Taking dual enrollment classes at Pellissippi State was a crucial part of the plan, since, he figured, college-level credit would carry more weight with the academy’s tough admission standards than would high school credit.

When President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation establishing West Point in 1802, he envisioned it as a strong science and engineering institution, and that tradition continues today. With that knowledge, Waldrep also took Fast Forward courses that would give him a good foundation in math and science.

“All my teachers at Pellissippi State were very helpful and willing to help me understand the concepts,” he said.

Waldrep earned a 3.96 grade point average at Pellissippi State. Along the way, he played for Farragut High School’s rugby club for two years, became an Eagle Scout, won two national awards from the Sons of the American Revolution and received a Congressional Award Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed on youth by the U.S. Congress.

In addition to accumulating 42 college credit hours through Fast Forward and 6 at the Governor’s School at UT-Martin, he worked as a paid student instructor at Pellissippi State under the supervision of Jerry Burns, a chemistry professor.

“When Matthew was in my class, I could tell he was a top-notch student,” said Burns, who served as a faculty reference. “After that, when he was my student instructor, he did an excellent job as well. When West Point chooses their cadets, some of what they look for is superb ability, inner strength and self-motivation. Matthew’s got all that.”

As a West Point cadet, Waldrep is a member of the U.S. Army. He receives a full scholarship and an annual salary, from which he pays for his uniforms, textbooks, personal computer and incidentals. Room, board, medical and dental care are provided by the federal government.

Upon graduation, he will be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree and an officer commission in the U.S. Army. In turn, he is obligated to serve five years on active duty in the Army and three years in an inactive reserve status.

For information about Pellissippi State’s Fast Forward program, visit www.pstcc.edu/dual or call (865) 694-6400.