SURPRISE, Ariz. – Once Brian Lunn made his mind up, there was no looking back.
It was West Point or nothing, Brian deciding early on in his life that he wanted to attend the historic military academy in New York.
The road to admission as a cadet was a long one – almost two years – finally coming to fruition in Feb., when Brian received notification he was accepted to attend the prestigious school, where he will spend four years before being commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army.
Brian’s journey to West Point began in earnest during his middle-school years, when he had the chance to visit the academy while on a trip to New York.
“Around the second or third grade, I went on a cross-country road trip with my family and one of the places we stopped was West Point. My dad was in the pipe bad when he was a police officer in New York and they would do shows at West Point,” Brian explained. “Something rubbed off on me while I was visiting there and I started thinking, ‘is attending West Point’ something that’s possible?’”
The possibility of one-day attending West Point suddenly became consuming for Brian, as he developed a work ethic that would prove the launching pad for the rigorous application process ahead.
“For me school always came first. Once I started becoming more serious about attending West Point during my middle school years, it started to become a more realistic target,” Brian, a Glendale, Ariz. native, said. “I was building a work ethic. By high school, it had become my goal. It was a natural progression.”
Brian’s first contact with the Army came though Staff Sgt. Steven Hutchins, recruiter, Surprise Recruiting Station, when Brian was commander of the law enforcement class at Valley Vista High School.
“He (Staff Sgt. Hutchins) would come in every Thursday to work with the class and get acclimated with the students,” he said. “After a few weeks, he realized I had interest in West Point, so he invited me to come out to Future Soldier training events at the recruiting station. I really enjoyed it, so I kept coming back.”
Immediately Hutchins saw something special in Brian, an observation that would eventually be realized.
“I knew right away when I met Brian in the law enforcement class that he had natural leadership ability. He would always come with questions and was very open to being taught anything. That’s the first thing you look for in a leader – someone who has the ability to be teachable,” Hutchins said. “He’s one of the most creative people I’ve met. He has the skill of being able to learn and teach others what he’s been taught.”
Showing initiative, Brian worked on much of the application himself, trying to get a head start on the process and be as prepared as possible.
“The process definitely started in my junior year of high school. Getting my standardized tests done early was a good thing to do. That way I could improve on them if I didn’t do as well as I hoped,” Brian said.
“During the summer, I got a jump on my applications for the senators and congress people. Each one of those is an application in itself.”
As a traditional part of the application process, all candidates must go through a series of interviews with local senators and congress people. For Brian, that meant being interviewed by staff members from the offices of Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).
“My first interview was with McSally’s board and it was definitely the hardest of the three, probably because it was my first one,” he continued.
“The other two were far less formal and they asked me a lot about my plans and goals. The Future Soldier training I’d done helped me out greatly. They were very interested in the physical aspect of the training.”
“That was my last step in the application process. I had everything else done already. I ended up with nominations from Lesko and Sinema’s offices. I was also medically cleared, which a lot of people applying haven’t done at that point in the process,” Brian added.
Brian’s father Cliff recalled the stress of the interviews with the local politicians.
“The process with the Senators was an intense process, where he had to get references and letters of recommendation from his teachers,” Cliff said. “Just watching this whole process play out and waiting for the recommendation letters was very stressful.”
Brian’s perseverance paid off however and in early Feb. he learned he had been selected at attend West Point.
“It was exciting for sure. My first notification was from Senator Sinema’s office. They called me during the school day and congratulated me on getting into West Point,” he said. “They thought I already knew, so it took me by surprise. I went home and checked and sure enough I had been accepted.”
Upon hearing the news, Cliff said he was overjoyed at seeing Brian’s dream become reality and is confident he will excel at West Point.
“Bryan has always been very strong in leadership roles. He was the commander of his law enforcement class and this year was the president of the school honor society. He’s also done a lot of volunteer work,” Cliff said. “He doesn’t like to brag about himself … he’s very modest. We as parents love to brag. He’s never had any grade lower than an A. So I don’t know what it’s going to feel like when he gets a B.”
Brian’s mother Chris Lunn echoed those sentiments, heaping praise upon Brian’s efforts to be accepted.
“I feel very grateful for this process. As his mother watching him grow up Brian’s been living this way of discipline since he was born. I don’t think we’ve ever punished Bryan in his life,” Chris said. “He’s always had this attitude that he will do his best. He’s very humble about it … it’s just ingrained in him. He was born in 2001, so his younger years were a very patriotic time, with the wars that were going on after 9/11.”
Chris said she is excited to see how Brian does at school, knowing he will relish the challenges ahead.
“I think this will be the kind of challenge he needs. I don’t think a regular school will be the all-encompassing approach that West Point will provide,” she said.
Chris credited Lt. Col. Scott Morley, commander, Phoenix Recruiting Battalion, and Nicole Bisacchi, West Point Admissions Field Office, for their help in assisting Brian in the application process.
“Both of them attended West Point and know exactly how the process goes. Brian couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. “Their help was instrumental in getting Brian accepted.”
Hutchins said he sees Brian succeeding overwhelmingly at West Point and beyond.
“He pushes everyone around him and always gives 110 percent. He is exactly the kind of officer the Army needs. He’s going to be the face and leader of the future,” Hutchins said.
With just over three months until he commences his West Point journey, Brian said he’s doing his best to prepare, both physically and mentally.
“I’m trying to stick to the same routine I always have. It’s worked so far. It helps to know what to expect once I’m there, but I’m still nervous about that fear of the unknown,” Brian said. “I hear some of my friends talking about what they’re going to do at college, all the applications they have to fill out and I’m glad I bypassed most of that.”
With a long path ahead of him, Brian said it’s too early to think about a branch, but sees no reason not to make a career out of the Army.
“I get the question about my branch a lot and honestly I’m not sure yet. Artillery sounds appealing, but I have to learn more about it. We’ll see what happens when the time comes,” Brian explained. “I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t make a career out of it however. I guess you never know, but that’s my plan, to stay in as long as I can.”