South Forsyth High School graduate Paul Murray knows not everyone has the same freedoms we have as Americans, and he wants to change that.
This fall, Murray is headed to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
But before he heads that way, he was able to talk with the Forsyth County News about what made him want to join the military, his toughest challenges in high school and how hard it is to pick a favorite Star Trek captain.
Q: Where are you going to college?
A: I’m going to the United States Military Academy at West Point. My main reason for doing so is even though I might not look like it right now is that I am part Venezuelan, I have a lot of family that is down there who have suffered a lot through Hugo Chavez and [Nicolás] Maduro.
That has been more of a push and a drive for me, personally, being that we in America have so many freedoms that many take for granted. I have family right now that I’ll probably never get to know ever, and them suffering kind of inspires me to make sure that others don’t suffer the same thing, especially here in America.
Q: What is your future major?
A: I’m still a bit undecided, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be in engineering with maybe a minor in business or econ.
Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
A: History. I’m very much a fan of the quote, ‘those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ I’ve always found it interesting that when I study history or read a new book on whether it be like the Civil War or World War II, I always find out something new, just an interesting fact that’s been lost and obscure, not taught. I just find that interesting.
Q: What is your least favorite subject?
A: Language Arts. My grammar is definitely not the greatest. I struggle with it a lot. Every time I have a paper or an essay and I get it in to get grammar checked, there are so many corrections to make.
Q: Who is your favorite teacher at South?
A: I’ve thought long and hard about this, and my official answer is I can’t decide. So many teachers throughout all my years have helped me become who I am now, and some of them have definitely been helpers. One of them gave me a recommendation to get a nomination to attend the service academy.
So, a lot of them have helped me a lot, so I can’t decide on that.
Q: What was your toughest challenge in high school?
A: I had a few. I guess academically it would be IB program, the career pathway. Some of those requirements, I had to stay up a lot longer than I usually do to make sure I was completing it.
Overall, I have to say becoming an Eagle Scout and getting into the United States Military Academy are my two toughest challenges I’ve faced.
Q: What is your favorite TV show?
A: Star Trek. I still can’t decide between Kirk and Piccard.
Q: Do you have a song for senior year?
A: No, but I do have a favorite band: Pink Floyd.
Q: What is the worst household chore?
A: Mowing the lawn, especially when I have to bag all the clippings. I’m out there for hours sometimes, and I get all dirty and messed up. I just hate.
I’m fine with mowing. It’s bagging it and clipping it that I can’t stand.
Q: Do you have any nervous habits?
A: When I’m sitting down, occasionally I shake my leg a bit, one of my legs, it doesn’t matter. Or I talk to myself.
Q: What are you most talented at?
A: Chess, political knowledge and leading. I’ve had a lot of experience leading. I was president of a few clubs here at school. Through scouting, I’ve always been one of the top leaders. I’ve been senior patrol leader [and] junior assistant scoutmaster, which are the two senior positions within scouting. And I’ve always been commended by the adults on my leadership capabilities.
Q: Conversely, what are you least talented at?
A: Golf. I can’t swing the club if my life depended on it, can’t swing at all. Every time they’re even forcing my hands to do it, I just can’t. It just feels so weird.
Q: What is something many don’t know about you?
A: I collect coins and currencies. I have a national complete quarter set, and I’m working on the national parks right now. I collect currencies from all over the world. I like their designs, and they’re fun to have. Of course, at that point, I have to keep looking at the exchange rates to see if it’s actually of any value or not.
Q: What are your career plans?
A: I haven’t thought that far because part of West Point is you are required afterward to serve in the military as your payment.
I have to serve for a certain amount of years, and afterward I’m still deciding whether or not to continue down the military path or transition to civilian, maybe political or economic sort of way.
There are multiple branches within the Army. The ones that I’ve looked into the most are military intelligence, armored, adjutant general and engineer corps but I’m still deciding. I have a few years on that.
Q: Any advice for next year’s seniors?
A: Cherish the memories and the friends that you have made throughout high school because especially once you head off to college, it’s a lot harder to even keep in contact with some of them because you could be going all around.