Meeks Honors Queens Youths Headed for West Point

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(Left to right): Stephen Duer, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, Justin DeoPaul and Timothy Chen 

BY TRONE DOWD

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) took time out to commend three young men from his district who were accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point New York for the upcoming fall semester.

Alongside their proud parents, three of the four young men—Jamaica’s Timothy Zhi-Ping Chen, Richmond Hill’s Stephen Duer and South Ozone Park’s Justin DeoPaul—visited the congressman’s office in Jamaica to meet with their elected official personally.

Duer, a graduate of the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governor’s Island and the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, told the Press of Southeast Queens that he has a background in leadership that dates back to his days with the Boy Scouts of America.

“I sort of wanted to continue that aspect of leadership and develop it,” he said. “I wanted to train myself to become an even better leader. When looking into colleges that can do that, what better place to make that happen than West Point?”

Chen, a graduate of Hunter College High School in Manhattan, was accepted into a number of different colleges.

However, Chen said that he strived to attend a school that would help him grow as a person. His father, Daniel Chen, is an alumnus of the prestigious Academy, so he was able to give him a better idea of the opportunities that awaited him at West Point.

“When I realized that I was kind of working towards that goal, it made sense that this was where I needed to be,” Chen said.

DeoPaul, a graduate of Xavier High School in Manhattan, said that attending West Point has been a goal of his since eighth grade.

“I’ve always wanted to go to the military,” he said. “I knew that college was the next step and I knew that I didn’t want an ordinary college experience. I had heard from my senior Army instructor in high school that they had great experiences there. I knew that was exactly where I needed to be.”

Meeks noted that this is the first time that congressional District 5 had four nominations in a single year, something that he said he loves to brag about to his colleagues in Washington. The fourth young man, Kevin Strehle of Rockaway Park, could not make it to Friday’s ceremony. Strehle graduated from Xavier High School with an 85.4 grade-point average and was accepted into the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.

“I want to congratulate all of you for your achievement,” Meeks said. “As you know, this is no small task and you’ve earned this opportunity to serve our country. Anytime we see individuals going in to be new cadets, I am so proud.

Your dedication says that you are focused on a career that will help our great nation.”

Meeks presented the three West Point prospects with Certificates of Congressional Recognition.

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