Jude Horak recently found himself having to choose between the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy.
Story by Lauren Traut, Patch Staff
Available at: https://patch.com/illinois/newlenox/providence-hs-senior-realizes-longtime-dream-west-point
NEW LENOX, IL — A Providence Catholic High School senior will soon have some new boots to lace up.
Jude Horak, 18, will ready for his next steps after high school by breaking in the boots he’ll need at the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point. Horak said he’s been aspiring for this goal since before high school, and was faced with a tough choice late last year: United States Naval Academy, or West Point. Horak had been offered appointments to both, and by Christmas, had made up his mind.
“My whole life I’ve felt like that’s really the only place I could find purpose, as cheesy as it sounds,” Horak told Patch. “I’ve always really heroicized the military, I thought it was the coolest thing anybody could do.”
Ultimately, Horak said, he’d heard that the U.S. Military Academy “brings leaders of people.
“The U.S. Naval Academy brings leaders of technology,” he said. “… I’ve always been more in line with the people side. … I always wanted to improve my connection to others.”
Horak recalls he has known he would pursue this route since he was in eighth grade.
“I knew I was heading in this direction,” he told Patch.
The military pushes individuals to intense limits, which develops character, he said.
“… It really furthers your individuality,” he told Patch. “The difficulty, rigor you go through to be in the military definitely furthers individuality.”
Knowing his goals, Horak participated in many extracurriculars throughout high school—beginning with the foundation of National Honor Society and Augustinian Youth Ministry.
“Those things are a given, you’ve got to reach in way beyond that,” Horak said.
He went on to join the Columbian Squires—a youth offshoot of Knights of Columbus—as well as other leadership opportunities. He then started a moving company called Haul-It Movers with his older brother Nigel.
He believed emphasis on leadership and generosity would help land him in the place he wanted to be.
“My acceptance is my confirmation of that thought,” he said.
Military roots don’t necessarily run deep in his family, he said, with the closest tie being his mother Julia Shauger’s father’s time in the U.S. Marines.
Horak is uncertain where his time in the military academy will take him; he knows he has approximately 10 years to figure that out.
“I don’t really know where my options could take me,” he told Patch. “A lot of it could be in government, maybe on a federal level—or things similar to, supporting the military.”
He’ll leave for his next journey in June, and will spend the months until then readying his personal life and friendships for the challenges ahead.
“After this summer, I really won’t see much of them for what could be nine years,” he said, of his friends.
He’ll prepare for a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend. His father Todd Horak will purchase him his boots well in advance, and he’ll “break ‘em in for a couple months before I get there.
“I know it’s going to be pretty rigorous,” he said, “so just getting prepared for it.”
Horak hopes anyone who aspires to a similar path, begins thinking ahead and planning how to bring their dreams to fruition.
“… It’s been a dream my whole life, being a part of something like this bigger than myself,” he said. “For anybody that wants to pursue this—if they really do want this—they’ve got to put their all into this.
“I was looking for how to get there before I even got to high school, you’ve just got to dedicate yourself 100 percent.”
Story available on the New Lenox Patch at https://patch.com/illinois/newlenox/providence-hs-senior-realizes-longtime-dream-west-point. Reposted with permission from writer.