Faith. Dedication. Service. The path that led senior Caleb Lim through the almost impassable doors of West Point is emblazoned with these three words.
Lim was admitted to the prestigious Army academy earlier this month. His
acceptance was a fulfillment of his dream of becoming a soldier, which
blossomed as a kid.
“I’ve always wanted to be a soldier. I played war as a kid, and I found
honor in service. I realized West Point was a place where I could use my God-given
talents and skills to my maximum potential in the field,” he said via
As determined as he was to become a service member, the process was long and
arduous; Lim decided to join the military near the end of his sophomore year,
later than most kids.
“Most kids decide they want to go to West Point at an early age, and their
parents begin prepping them for the academy during middle school with
activities, clubs, and sports so their resumes will look stacked,” he shared.
To make up for lost time, he took the initiative to educate himself by
talking to as many people as he could regarding service academies. He notified
his GLC, Sonja Burns, who connected him to a local West Point liaison officer.
Upon contact, the officer gave Lim a several hour brief on the entire
“I had to do a physical exam, fitness exam, eye exam, plus my online
application, on top of that get a congressional or senator’s nomination,” Lim
In January 2014, almost a year after he chose to serve, Lim ran into a minor
complication. He applied to both the Naval Academy and West Point summer
programs but was not accepted to West Point and instead went to the Naval
“Although I was discouraged I didn’t get into the West Point [program], I
had a great experience at the Naval Academy summer seminar. It gave me a lot of
insight on academy life, classes, schedule, meals, and people,” he shared.
The prospective cadet was faced with another hurdle when he was initially
denied entrance to Boys State, a highly competitive summer leadership and
citizenship program sponsored by the American Legion for high school juniors.
“I turned in my application early, but they didn’t give me an offer and said
it was too late, so Mrs. Burns argued on my behalf, and I gained a spot last
minute. It was the hand of God working,” he said.
Lim has been actively working as a Boy Scout, starting from the seventh
grade, hoping that his dedication could be directly translated onto his
application. Last year in January, he became an Eagle Scout, the highest rank
attainable in the scouting program. He then went above and beyond to be the
first of his district to earn an Eagle Palm, an award that represents
additional recognition for an Eagle Scout who has stayed active in his unit.
Similar to any other student, Lim had to keep up his grades and do well on
the SAT’s, but social interactions played a key role in his acceptance to West
“I [attended] congressionally held service academy nights, [and had] dinner
with people from West Point, the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. [I
also attended] Korean- American West Point clubs to meet the students there.
The connections I’ve made and kept helped me a lot because I left good
impressions and they were able to see that, and some even put in good words for
me,” he said.
Burns was equally pleased on Lim’s acceptance to West Point.
“He is an outstanding student who challenges himself in multiple AP and
honors classes. He’s definitely one of the top kids,” she said. “I actually had
tears in my eyes when he came into my office and told me he was going to West
Point…. He’s known he wanted to go to West Point since he was a little boy and
he has just worked his tail off to get to where he is now.”
Lim admitted that his brother, Diamond Bar High School class of 2008 alumnus
Joshua Lim, was a big influence in his decision to join the military.
“My greatest inspiration was my brother. Growing up, I always looked up to
him, did what he did, played with his friends, and wanted to be just like him.
I even wanted hair like him. He went into Marine Corps training, and when he
came back home, he was a changed man. He changed from a college party boy who
didn’t listen into a respectable, composed young man, and I admired that
change,” he shared.
However, the future second lieutenant’s ultimate decision to serve stemmed
from the philosophy he lives by.
“I admire the act of growing stronger, so I set a motivation that I wanted
to place myself wherever I needed to achieve the strongest version of myself. I
hope to grow stronger as a person in all aspects of life. I hope to glorify God
through all this. My direction in life is hopefully becoming an Army Ranger and
possibly moving on to more advanced levels of Special Forces units. I plan on
making a career out of my service,” he said. “This is all far down the line,
but these have been my initial goals and motivations. Success isn’t money or
income. To me, it’s finding fulfillment in maximizing my potential for the
benefit of others. I firmly believe I can do that at West Point.”
Lim gave a message to underclassmen who wish to walk the same path as him.
“Never be satisfied. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, however you’re
doing it, you can always do more, be more, and gain more. Stay humble, stay
hungry, and use common sense.”