Some recent and upcoming graduates in the area may be the next cadets and midshipmen in U.S. military academies. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, this month announced the names of 20 students from his congressional district that he has nominated for entry into one of four academies. Among the list were students from Ardmore, Plainview, Marietta, and Sulphur.

Also on the list is Lone Grove High School senior Mark French, who was nominated by Cole for entry into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. French said his grandfather was an army chief warrant officer and that his parents met while overseas during Operation Desert Storm. “My parents were both in the army, so that influence on me has been there from a very young age,” he said.

This is not French’s first congressional nomination after an earlier nod from Sen. James Inhofe, R-Tulsa. “We’re still seeing if I’ll get a third nomination from Sen. Lankford,” he said, speaking of Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City. He still has to complete a candidate fitness assessment before his full application can be submitted later next month.

“Lone Grove schools have provided me with lots of opportunities to set myself up for success,” he said. During a youth leadership forum in Washington, D.C., French said a panel on cybersecurity sparked an interest in the field. “In today’s world we are surrounded by technology, so it’s very important to protect intellectual property that gets put online,” he said.

He is also aware of election interference and how technology can impact national security. “I want to major in cybersecurity. I’ve always been interested in computers,” French said.

If accepted to West Point, French would also have to fulfill a duty requirement of five years serving as an U.S. Army officer after graduation. Even though he comes from a military family, French was realistic when asked if he would make the military a long-term career. “I really can’t tell what life will be like nine years from now,” he said.