BEND, OR -- U.S. Representative Greg Walden announced Friday the nomination of eight Oregon students to high-ranking U.S. service academies -- and one of them is from Bend. McKenzie Bell is a graduate of Bend High and was nominated for West Point. She is the only female nominated out of the eight students, and the only student from Deschutes County.
"Walden went out of his way to call her and congratulate her," says Kelsey Bell, McKenzie's mom. "But more than that, he thanked her four times. I mean, it was just, that meant so much to her. He just kept thanking her for stepping up. It just gives you chills when you're a mom and you hear that."
McKenzie graduated from Bend Senior High in 2013, and is a student at the College of Idaho. In the past year, she went through an exhaustive process of trying to get into the military service academy.
"I think [West Point is] ranked as the second hardest place to get into in the latest reports," her mother, Kelsey Bell, says. "It's unreal, the process. It's been a year for her of doing nothing but essays and fitness assessments and medical assessments and interviews."
Final selection for admission will be conducted this spring. McKenzie's brother is currently at West Point.