Indian-American, Anmol Narang is making history as the first observant Sikh woman to successfully graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Second Lt. Anmol Narang is a second-generation immigrant born and raised in Roswell, Georgia. She did a year of undergraduate study at the Georgia Institute of Technology before transferring to West Point, where she will graduate Saturday with a degree in nuclear engineering. She hopes to pursue a career in air defense systems.
Lieutenant Narang, who grew up in Roswell, Ga., said military service was always in her blood. “My grandfather was in the Indian Army,” she said in an interview. “It was always a big part of my life and something I was always interested in.”
While Lieutenant Narang is the first observant Sikh to graduate from the academy, she is not the first Sikh cadet to do so. After graduating from West Point, Captain Simratpal Singh filed a lawsuit to request permission to serve while wearing a turban and a beard, a victory that paved the way for future Sikh service members to be granted religious exemptions.
West Point has worked to enroll more minority recruits — last year’s graduating class was its most diverse ever and included the highest number of black women in the academy’s history — but remains predominantly white and male.
Despite being a minority within a minority on campus, Lieutenant Narang said she did not feel isolated as a student there. In some ways, she said, it was easier to fit in as a female Sikh cadet than if she had been a man.
Two male practicing Sikh cadets are behind Lieutenant Narang, and they received religious accommodations from the academy to grow facial hair and wear turbans. The Army standard for women’s hair says that a bun must be no larger than 3.5 inches in diameter. For Lieutenant Narang, whose hair hangs to her knees, it took some practice to pin a bun tight enough to meet the requirement, but she did not need a religious accommodation.
Articles on the topic
- New Yortk Times – Latest Crop of West Point Graduates Includes First Observant Sikh Cadet – Anmol Narang said she was inspired to apply to West Point after visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Hawaii.
- stripes-West Point graduates its first observant Sikh woman
- Tribune India – First Sikh woman to graduate from US Military Academy at West Point