Corps, community mourn, honor fallen Firstie

Story by Jason Hoppe Associate Dean for the Writing Program

March 21st, 2019 | News, News and Features
 Class of 2019 Cadet Peter Zhu
 Cadet Peter Zhu's Honor Dog Tags
  A memorial shrine stood for Class of 2019 Cadet Peter Zhu during his military memorial ceremony at the Cadet Chapel March 5.

U.S. Military Academy cadets, staff, faculty and community members continued to mourn and honor Class of 2019 Cadet Peter L. Zhu in the weeks after his passing on Feb. 27 in Valhalla, New York.
The Zhu family and more than 1,000 cadets and community members gathered for a military memorial ceremony at the Cadet Chapel on March 5, with others observing the ceremony remotely in Eisenhower Hall.
Speakers shared personal stories of Zhu, emphasizing his concern and care for others in assorted informal and formal capacities, including as President of the West Point Pre-Medical Society, lead for the Cadet Counselor Unit, Academic Officer for his company (E-1) and as a Senior Cadet Writing Fellow, among other positions.
One speaker, Class of 2019 Cadet Grace Yu, commented that Zhu was “brilliant, adventurous, genuine, selfless, infectiously encouraging and never too serious,” that he was “relentless in pursuing everything he set his heart on,” and “yet, he somehow always found ways to share his time, kindness and talents with those around him.”
It was also noted at the ceremony that Zhu had been accepted to the MD-PhD program at the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He was the first cadet in the academy’s history to receive such an acceptance, according to retired Col. Alan Beitler, M.D., head academic counselor in Academic Affairs and Registrar Services.
Immediately prior to private funeral services held on March 8, Zhu was presented posthumously with the Army Commendation Medal by Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, who noted, “First Class Cadet Peter Zhu’s outstanding performance, selfless service, high standards, exceptional academic proficiency and dedication contributed immeasurably to the overall success of the Corps of Cadets.”
At this ceremony, Zhu also received a posthumous Bachelor of Science Degree from the academy and was posthumously commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Zhu’s legacy of integrating service and achievement will continue, suggest academy mentors.
Lt. Col. Melissa R. Eslinger, assistant professor in Chemistry and Life Science, characterized Zhu as a “storyteller,” noting that impactful, jointly-authored research of his on narrative and scientific communication continues to be prepared for publication.
Zhu’s scholarly poster, “Narrating Science: Harnessing Storytelling to Improve Students’ Scientific Communication,” is set to be presented in April at the Stamps Scholars 2019 National Convention, in Atlanta.
Zhu is survived by his parents, Yongmin Zhu and Monica Minzhi Yao, as well as his older sister, Helen Zhu, all of whom reside in California.