In a First, West Point Class Includes a Sikh Woman

Anmol Narang is receiving a degree in nuclear engineering
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 12, 2020 5:25 PM CDT
In a First, West Point Class Includes a Sikh Woman
West Point cadets attend graduation ceremonies in May 2019.   (AP Photo/Julius Constantine Motal)

The US Military Academy at West Point will make history Saturday when it graduates the first Sikh woman to successfully complete the path to a four-year degree. Second Lt. Anmol Narang is a second-generation immigrant born and raised in Roswell, Georgia, the AP reports. She did a year of undergraduate study at the Georgia Institute of Technology before transferring to West Point, where she will graduate with a degree in nuclear engineering. She hopes to pursue a career in air defense systems. Graduating from West Point fulfills her dream, Narang said in a news release from the Sikh Coalition, a nonprofit based in New York that works to protect the constitutional right to practice faith without fear. "I am humbled that in reaching this goal, I am showing other Sikh Americans that any career path is possible for anyone willing to rise to the challenge," Narang said.

Narang will complete her Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, officials said. Following that, she will then head to her first post in Okinawa, Japan, in January. Congress passed a law in 1987 that prohibits Sikhs and other religious communities from maintaining their articles of faith while in the military. A Sikh's visible articles of faith, including turbans and unshorn facial hair, were banned. Narang required no accommodation for her articles of faith, but the coalition said "her exemplary service to date underscores how diversity and pluralism remain core strengths of the U.S. military and the country as a whole." Army Capt. Simratpal Singh, a family friend, said he is proud of Narang, saying she's "breaking a barrier for any Sikh American who wishes to serve."

(Read more West Point stories.)

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