Kalik earns national achievement award
Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Jan. 22, 2014) — The 2013 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award Corporation award winner for the U.S. Military Academy is Class of 2014 Cadet Jaclyn Kalik, a life science major and a future Army physician.
HENAAC and the Department of Defense annually honors one military cadet from each of the service academies and one Reserve Officers Training Corps cadet from each of the service branches for a Cadet Leadership Award.
Kalik is featured as the Scholar of the Week in the Dec. 30 edition of the Great Minds in STEM home page at http://www.greatmindsinstem.org/scholars-of-the-week/cadet-jaclyn-kalik.
Kalik certainly fits the bill for a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics scholar because of an early interest in, and an introduction to the sciences by her parents.
“Science is something I have always been interested in,” Kalik said. “I just loved it from a very young age. Both my parents are physicians. I would go to the office with them and help my mom do frozen sections (frozen tissue samples for microscopic examinations.) My mom is a pathologist and my father is an allergist.”
Kalik also comes from a diverse background and has a family history that shadows events of World War II and the Holocaust.
“My mom is from Argentina and my great-grandparents were from Hungary,” Kalik said. “They fled to Argentina to escape the Holocaust. My mom came to the United States when she was nine, but my father was born here in the U.S.”
Kalik said one of her grandmother’s relatives wrote a book about their family history, which she read as a child and an interest in World War II history and the Holocaust was born.
“Most of the family died in the concentration camps,” Kalik said. “The others got out and went to Argentina. I am incredibly passionate about learning about the Holocaust, World War II and Israel. I have been to Israel a few times and it is just an incredible place. It is the center of everything.”
Initially, Kalik was not planning on going to West Point. She intended to go to medical school and be an Army physician, but in a different way than attending a military academy.
“My brother opened me up to all the stuff that West Point is,” Kalik said. Kalik’s brother is 1st Lt. Michael Kalik, a USMA Class of 2011 graduate who is currently deployed in Afghanistan.
“I went to the Summer Leaders Seminar,” Kalik explained. “I just wanted to get a feel for West Point and to know what my brother went through and that I could do it too. I fell in love with it. I applied and got in and haven’t looked back since.”
During the summer between Kalik’s junior and senior year, she was selected as a first sergeant. She admitted she was not sure she could handle the responsibility.
“Initially I was really nervous,” Kalik said. “Typically first sergeants have hard personalities and are really strict, some see them as brutal. I did not see myself like that, but my tactical officer recommended me for it and he had a lot of faith in me. I realized that it is not about fitting a position; it is about fitting that position to you. And to be successful, it is about how you are and your personality. I learned so much about myself and my leadership style.
Class of 2014 Cadet Jaclyn Kalik, a life science major and member of the Women's Soccer Team, was the recipient of the 2013 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award, a cadet leadership award presented annually to a cadet from each of the service academies.
“I’m not a yeller,” she said. “I tried to earn the respect of my subordinates and to encourage mutual respect. If they step out of line or mess up, they feel like they lost that respect, so the next time they will do better. That is the biggest thing I learned. It was a great experience.”
Kalik branched into the Medical Service Corps where she will serve throughout her years in medical school.
“You graduate as a captain after you graduate from medical school,” she said. “I haven’t decided what medical school to go to yet. I have been accepted to a few places, but the decision doesn’t need to be made until May 15.”
Right now, Kalik is looking into reconstructive surgery as an Army physician to help wounded warriors get back on track.
“I think it will be incredibly rewarding in the Army to be able to help Soldiers get back to fighting and to be confident again,” Kalik said. “I just think that would be very rewarding and it will be something different every day.”
Kalik is an avid soccer player and is a member of the West Point women’s team.
“The thing I’ve gotten so much from here is being on the soccer team,” Kalik said. “The girls are just an incredible family and we have been through a lot of ups and downs. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without them. We were on the Patriot league tournament two years ago. It’s been a great team and I am really lucky to be a part of that team.”
“There are just so many incredible people here throughout West Point,” Kalik said.