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Photo: U.S. Army

As a little girl, Simone Askew would lead her sister and friends on marches through the woods pretending to be soldiers. Now, the 20-year-old Northern Virginia native is officially living out her dreams as the first African-American woman to lead cadets as the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.

Askew, an International History major from Fairfax, just outside of Washington, D.C., was attending a football game in Annapolis, Maryland with her mother when she saw Navy midshipmen take the field in formation, according to a profile from the New York Times.

That moment would become pivotal as Askew excelled throughout high school, becoming class president and homecoming queen at Fairfax High School. To mark how driven Askew was to chase her current goals, she skipped her crowning as homecoming queen to attend a West Point recruitment event instead.

With Askew assuming the role of First Captain late last month, she leads a class of 4,400 cadets and serves as the main liaison between them and West Point’s top staff. She is also responsible for their overall performance as well.

Pat Walter Locke, who became West Point’s first Black woman to graduate in 1980, served as a mentor to Askew.

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Little Known Black History Fact: Simone Askew  was originally published on