Walton County teen accepted to prestigious military academy

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WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A local girl is on her way to making history, not just for her family, but also for the area.

Isabella Ekstrom is about to embark on the biggest mission of her life.

"So she is the first female who has the potential of graduating now," said President of the West point Society of Northwest Florida, Dr. Chuck Merkel.

She has just graduated from Northwest Florida State College, will graduate from Seacoast High School among the top in her class, and recently received her appointment to one of the countries most prestigious schools - United States Military Academy at West Point.

"Anyone who wants to go to the academy has to get a nomination from either their congress person," Isabella explained. "In my case, it was Jeff Miller."

"Bella is the ten percent. She is the one person who was selected from those ten applicants, which bodes well, not only of the education that she has received here but also the preparation she has had from her parents," said Dr. Merkel.

"This process has been over a year in the making," said Isabella. "I started my junior year when I applied to the summer leadership experience and then after that just continued the application all the way until when I got my appointment in January."

Isabella says, not only is she proud to potentially be the first from her area to achieve this goal, but it will also be a first for her family.

"Isabella is setting the bar high. She has looked for the opportunity around her and has found the highest mark she could reach to," said Isabella's father, Robert Ekstrom.

"To go to the academy, well I would be the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college, so I'm very excited to be an officer," Isabella added.

She credits her father and grandfather for her motivation. Both of whom have served our country.

"She credits one of my decisions for my military service with her decision making and I think she's realized that the decisions she makes now will affect future generations after her. And so I couldn't be prouder of her," said her father proudly.

"This is important to me, especially to set a precedent for my younger sister, who is in 9th grade, just as I'm graduating. To show her that, you know, you can do anything you set your mind to," said Isabella.

"The rest of her life is built on what she does now, and there will be future generations built on her decisions," added her father.

The application process is very rigorous and Isabella says if any of you are interested, she recommends starting early, and not giving up when the going gets tough.

Isabella said she will report for a six-week boot camp on July 3rd before she begins her academic year.