Brookfield NOW ran a story on a huge accomplishment made by a former MYSO student.
It had been nearly 40 years since a Wisconsinite had graduated first in order of merit in his or her class from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Brookfield’s Ensign Tom Wester put a stop to that.
The 2012 Brookfield East High School graduate was selected first in order of merit on the basis of his academic and military accomplishment, in addition to his selection by a committee of officers and faculty.
The honor stems from years of hard work. Wester said it wasn’t on his mind when he first arrived on campus four years ago.
“My dad and I were sitting outside a dormitory and we had just gotten our haircuts and our new uniforms. His last piece of advice for me was ‘Tom, just don’t flunk out,'” Wester said.
Wester credits a number of advisors and peers with helping him along.
“I never really anticipated the level of mentorship I was going to get at the academy,” he said. “That’s something that I’ve really valued and am extremely thankful for.”
Commander Richard McGrath, a math professor, is one man in particular Wester is thankful for. He had influence on both the academic and the military sides of the Navy.
“I met Tom in the spring of his sophomore year and over the course of that semester and several more, I saw him grow not only as a student, but at the same time I saw him grow into someone who is going to be a very good junior officer,” McGrath said.
Wester graduated with honors and a degree in science and applied mathematics. He plans to live in Washington, D.C.. this summer working for a consulting firm.
In the fall, he will continue his schooling and head across the country to Palo Alto where he will pursue his masters as part of Stanford University’s operations research program.
“It’s essentially trying to use mathematical and statistical analysis to optimize solutions to problems,” Wester said.
Like all ensigns who graduate from the naval academy, Wester has a five-year service obligation that will begin in March 2018 when he will be assigned to the U.S.S. Howard, a guided missile destroyer stationed in San Diego.
“San Diego deployments are in the Pacific command. Deployments last anywhere from six to nine months and I could be going anywhere,” he said.
After his service commitment ends, Wester remains uncertain of what he would like to do next.
“He is very inquisitive and he is very much a self-starter,” McGrath said. “He’s a fine young man. He’s going to make not only his hometown and state of Wisconsin but his entire country proud.”
Both of Wester’s grandfathers served in the U.S. Army in World War II. His parents, Joe and Susan Wester were not in the service, but Tom credits them with guiding him to his current place in life.
It was a Boy Scout trip to Georgia when Wester was in eighth grade at Pilgrim Park Middle School that led him to the Navy.
“One of the teachers there who was teaching the merit badge clinic was a graduate from the naval academy,” Wester said.
The Westers moved to Brookfield in 2003. Tom attending the fourth grade at Burleigh Elementary School.
Joe Wester is a vice president of sales at KM2 Solutions and Susan is a legal assistant. Tom has a sister, Laura, who is pursuing a degree in dance at Kent State University.
Wester said his high school teachers prepared him well.
“The teachers at Brookfield East, I can’t even name all of them. During the time that I spent there, they were so crucial,” he said.
He also credited Carter Simmons, artistic director with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. Wester was a trumpet player.
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