U.S. Military Academy Class of 2018 Cadet Simone Askew. (2nd Lt. Austin LaChance/USMA Public Affairs Office)

A Northern Virginian selected to hold the top position in the chain of command for West Point cadets will be the first African American woman to do so at the U.S. Military Academy.

West Point this week announced that Cadet Simone Askew of Fairfax will serve as first captain of the Corps of Cadets during the upcoming academic year. Askew, an international history major at West Point, will assume her duties later this month.

“Simone truly exemplifies our values of Duty, Honor, Country,” Brig. Gen. Steven W. Gilland, commandant of cadets, said in a release. “Her selection is a direct result of her hard work, dedication and commitment to the Corps over the last three years.”

As first captain, Askew will be “responsible for the overall performance” of the West Point cadets, according to the release. She will act as an intermediary between the corps and West Point’s administration, and work on a class agenda.

There are more than 4,000 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. The service academy, located on the bluffs above the Hudson River, is about 50 miles north of New York City.

Founded in 1802, West Point, enrolled women for the first time in 1976. Federal data show that 20 percent of cadets at West Point in fall 2016 were women.

Askew, 20, is a member of the Army West Point Crew team.

Dave Goldfarb, her former principal at Fairfax High School, said he remembered Askew as a “very dynamic person.” Askew was the type of student who consistently saw value in others, he said, and was both well-rounded and well-liked.

“She was always very positive, had great energy,” Goldfarb said. “She excelled at including others. She was very much a collaborative leader.”

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