HAMMOND | The advice Akeem Rutherford's father gave him has proven historic.
"My dad always told me in life it is best to always do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it and be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there," said the 18-year-old. "Another is the Golden Rule in the teaching of Jesus Christ that what you sow, you shall also reap."
Rutherford is the first black student from Hammond High School to earn an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., nominated the National Honor Society senior after an interview in November.
"Akeem Rutherford is an academically accomplished student who is actively engaged in his community," Visclosky said in a statement. "A scholar, leader, musician, and athlete, Akeem is a multitalented, impressive young man. I am proud of him for having the honor and integrity to choose to serve his country and expect great things from him at West Point."
Rutherford, the fifth of six children of Alfred and Vernorah Rutherford, plans to pursue a mechanical engineering major.
A gold medalist in the school's Science Olympiad, Rutherford is a member of the Spanish Club, senior class government and a drama theater manager.
In sports, Rutherford is a right fielder on the school's baseball team.
Norma Coleman, U.S. Naval Academy information officer, said Rutherford is the first black cadet from Hammond High. He is one of three appointments of color from Northwest Indiana going to any of the academies in the last eight years.
"This appointment means a lot and is a very significant step in my life," said Rutherford, an academic four-year letterman. "Not very many African-Americans get into West Point and I feel very good."