Emily Perez, d. 9/12/2006
Even at a school of overachievers, Perez's friends and teachers say that she stood out. She held the second-highest rank in her senior class, and, as Brigade Command Sergeant Major, was the highest-ranking minority woman in the history of West Point. She set school records as a sprinter on the track team, led the school's gospel choir, tutored a number of other students and even helped start a dance squad to cheer on the football and basketball teams. Professors wanted her to be in their classes, soldiers wanted her to lead their cadets, underclassmen wanted to catch a little bit of the unstoppable drive that pushed her to meet and exceed the many challenges the academy throws at its students.
"People often say only good things about someone after they've died, but none of this is hyperbole," says Morten Ender, her faculty advisor in the Sociology Program at West Point. "Emily was amazing."
"She was a star among stars," is how classmate Meagan Belk puts it. "You just never would have imagined this would happen to her."