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VMI cadet who lost family in plane crash named valedictorian

LEXINGTON, Va. — The oldest state-sponsored military college in the United States honored a cadet who lost his family in a plane crash.

The Virginia Military Institute named First Classman Drew Borinstein this year’s valedictorian.

A VMI graduation is full of ceremony and tradition, something that this year’s valedictorian is most conscious of.

“It’s an honor and it’s very humbling to have been selected,” Borinstein, said to WDBJ. 

But he comes to the podium with more than a vote of confidence from his classmates.

Last August, Drew was expecting his family for his graduation from Marine training at Quantico.

First Classman Drew Borinstein

“I wasn’t expecting my family to come in for a few hours,” he said. “They were flying in that morning, and so I was just kind of sitting around waiting.”

The hours passed as he waited.

“And so, later in the afternoon, I decided to pull out my phone and just type into Google or whatever: crashes, plane crashes in Virginia, and something popped up talking about a crash that had just happened in Fredricksburg,” Borinstein  said. “That’s basically when I knew.”

Drew’s mother, sister, and brother died, along with three others; his father had died the year before.

He was left with only his brother and grandmother.

“There was only one place that I could turn, and that was to God,” he said. “And he’s really been so incredible to me. I don’t really have many words to say, that’s just who I am.”

When he marched to graduation and commission as a Marine, he did it knowing what his parents might have said.

“They told me that they were proud of me every time that they talked to me,” Drew said. “My father was especially proud, and he let me know that all the time.”