Cordova Resident Earns a Spot at West Point Military Academy

Francis Castillo de Mulert and the West Point Seal, Courtesy photo

Cordova Resident Earns a Spot at West Point Military Academy

Staff Report

In six months, northern New Mexico native, Francis Castillo de Mulert will have something in common with legendary Duke University Coach Mike Krzyzewski and presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant. Each will have attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY.

On January 28th, Castillo de Mulert answered his cell phone. On the other end was U.S. Senator Tom Udall. “I am very proud to offer the opportunity to attend the United States Military Academy,” said Udall.

The phone call brought to life a five-year dream for Castillo de Mulert. “I first thought of attending West Point when I was in seventh grade. By the time I was an eighth grader, I knew for sure that’s where I wanted to go to College.” Along with Senator Udall, Francis also received nominations to attend the Military Academy from Congressman Ben Ray Luan and Senator Martin Heinrich.

The opportunity comes with a full scholarship to one of the country’s most respected institutions of higher education.  Tuition for cadets is covered by the Army in exchange for active duty service upon graduation. “Each year, thousands of high school students apply for admission to USMA, but only a few are accepted,” says the Academy’s website. The U.S. Military Academy, also referred to as West Point, was founded in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson.

Francis attended Mountain View Elementary and in middle school transferred to Santa Fe Prep where he will graduate with honors this coming May. While at Prep, he earned a first place finish in the New Mexico Piano Sonata Competition, a $3000 grant from the New Mexico State Organics Lab to test toxins in soil and was awarded Honors GPA for five consecutive semesters after maintaining a minimum 3.7 GPA while taking Honors and AP courses.

Castillo de Mulert is also a stand-out athlete. Last season he was ranked #1 statewide in Class AAA for free throw percentage (85%) and #2 for three point shooting with 178 three pointers in thirty games. For two years, he was named one of the “Top Five Players to Watch in northern New Mexico” by The Santa Fe New Mexican.

In addition to a congressional nomination and strong academic history, the Military Academy requires that applicants be physically fit and of high character. This past June Francis was able to experience these requirements first hand as a participant of the Academy’s Summer Leadership Program. “I had no idea what to expect,” Castillo de Mulert reflected. “At first it was a lot of yelling, then they shaved my head. Afterwards it was an opportunity to meet some great people, some of whom will be my classmates.” The physical tests included push-ups, pull-ups, a one-mile run and a thirty-meter dash. “I run track and play basketball, so I wasn’t too worried about the running, but I’ve been working on the other tests since my junior year.”

Castillo de Mulert plans to earn a degree in civil engineering. West Point offers the country’s oldest, accredited civil engineering degree. He also hopes to one day play basketball for the Military Academy. During his cadet training, he will have the opportunity to practice with the team.

Castillo de Mulert will leave for New York in August. “I’ll miss my parents and the culture here in New Mexico, I’ll especially miss green chili,” he shared. To help with the homesickness, at least three Santa Fe Prep classmates will attend other universities in the New York area.

“Reality hasn’t sunk in but when I think about someone from Cordova, NM following in the footsteps of a U.S. President, all I can say is, this is crazy. I want to thank everyone who has helped me earn this opportunity, my teachers and especially my parents.” Francis is the son of Terry Mulert and Paula Castillo, residents of Cordova, NM.