ELBURN – Kaneland High School graduate Tanner Andrews said that attending the United States Military Academy at West Point has given him the best of both worlds – the government paid for his schooling and he gets to serve in the military.
Andrews said that watching his older brother, Taylor Andrews, at West Point was inspiring. He said he realized he wanted to be part of something greater than himself.
Taylor Andrews graduated from West Point in 2016 and is currently deployed in Qatar with the U.S. Army’s Air Defense Artillery.
Tanner Andrews, who will graduate from West Point this May, said he has received an outstanding education with a full-ride scholarship in which his tuition, room and board and expenses were fully paid. In exchange, he committed to serving on active duty in the U.S. Army for five years.
If he were to decide to leave the Army after that, he would be required to serve an additional three years in the Individual Ready Reserve. However, he said he wants to pursue a career in the U.S. Army.
Andrews said that only about 10 percent of applications to West Point are accepted. Although excellent grades and test scores are important, he said that West Point looks for leaders who are also physically fit and have good moral character. A congressional recommendation, which he received from U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Plano, is also required.
“Tanner is all in,” said his dad, Dean Andrews. “He offered to come back [to Kaneland] to promote the Academy.”
Andrews recently shared his experiences with others who might be interested in pursuing this path and their parents at the American Legion Post 630 in Elburn. Post Cmdr. John Nevenhoven said he felt it was helpful for students to have a peer-to-peer discussion about what to expect.
“I was impressed with his honesty,” Nevenhoven said. “It’s always good to see someone who has goals, and he appears to be up to the challenge.”
Andrews excelled in athletics in high school and was on both the football and track teams all four years at Kaneland.
He said that service to the community is something that West Point also takes seriously and his included volunteering as a youth group leader with the Christ-centered Lake Geneva Youth Camp, as well as being active in his church, now known as Chapelstreet Church in Geneva.
Andrews said he has grown a great deal during his four years at West Point and has gained a lot of experience in interacting with a diverse group of people of different races, backgrounds and even other countries.
He said he believes the most important aspect of being a leader is humility.
“I don’t like to make it all about me,” he said. “It’s all about service to our country.”
He said that being a moral compass for one’s unit involves “acting with integrity at all times, never compromising your morals, and doing the harder right over the easier wrong, especially when no one’s looking.”
After graduation, he will participate in the Army Ranger School and the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course before beginning his military career at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Wash.
“I’m proud and humbled at the same time,” his dad said.
Although Dean Tanner is a civilian, he said he and his wife, Amy Tanner, have always had a deep respect for the military and first responders.
“We’re proud they’ve chosen these paths,” he said.