West Point Valedictorian wants to join Infantry

Erin Mauldin after the graduation ceremony for French Commando School, in Mont-Louis, France. (Photo: Courtesy Erin Mauldin)

22-year-old Erin Mauldin is no stranger to being a pioneer.  Graduating West Point as the valedictorian, she was handed her diploma by President Obama.  She was the first American to graduate from French Commando School and as a Rhodes scholar; Mauldin even studies at Oxford and gets in some rowing time with the University’s team.

But this type of first for her was a bit unexpected, even by her standards.  She finds herself in this month’s Cosmo Magazine, in a feature entitled 8 Incredible Women Who Will Inspire You to Break the Rules.  In the magazine, she is listed with women like Joanna Jurek, who is developing a treatment that tackles pancreatic cancer and Sindhuja Rajamaran, who is India’s youngest CEO.

“We thought, this is someone we need to have in the magazine and tell our 18 million girls about,” said Laura Brounstein, special projects editor for the magazine. “When this project came up, we thought this is exactly where we should be celebrating Erin and her accomplishments, because what’s more American than the valedictorian at West Point?”

Speaking with Army Times last week, Mauldin went on to discuss her “trailblazing” nature, and the possibility of Ranger School.  Here are a couple quotes from the interview.

  •  Q: You’ve had a lot of accomplishments since your time at West Point and while you were there, but in terms of things that you might not have expected to have happen, where does seeing your photo in Cosmo rank in that list?
  • A: That was definitely a pretty big shock for this year. Being at Oxford has been even bigger — I keep pinching myself every couple of days, going, “Am I really here? Is this really happening?” So I’d say that one is a little bit higher up on the list, followed by graduation. Cosmo definitely ranks somewhere. It’s not something I was expecting whatsoever.


  • Q: Have you spoken to anyone about Ranger school? Obviously you have a few other things on your plate …
  • A:  I am in contact with my friends who are training for it, and my fingers are crossed for their success. I definitely want to be a part of it when the time comes. I want to go to Ranger school because of the valuable skills to learn there. I did some of the Ranger preparation at West Point that they were doing for some of the men who were going before BOLC and was excited by the small-unit leadership that is at the core of training. The missions we did at French Commando School hinted at the tight teamwork necessary to execute missions on a squad level or a platoon level, but due to language barriers or a different focus of the course, we never could quite accomplish that.  At Ranger school, I see the opportunity to hone those skills in terms of small-unit leadership, as well as developing the confidence in very sucky situations to be able to know as a team that you can either lead or be a part of a team that accomplishes what needs to be done. Yes, I want to go to Ranger school — for the skill sets and for learning the confidence for those situations.


  • Michael Swaney

    Michael is an Army veteran and the Director of Content for Bright Mountain Media LLC

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