“Take The Failure”: Cheating And Redemption In The Calculus Honor Scandal

Troy Nachtigal


Troy Nachtigal was born in 1999 and grew up in Wisconsin, enjoying spending time outdoors. As a boy, he was interested in football and working with his hands. His older brother, James, was recruited to play football at West Point, and the recruiters became interested in Troy as well. Troy attended USMAPS (United States Military Academy Prep School) and had a wonderful experience there, developing many strong relationships and learning the basics about being a Cadet. His training at USMAPS was so thorough that he felt well prepared for R-Day, and it was not nearly as stressful as he expected. He struggled academically and eventually left the football team to focus on his coursework. The COVID-19 pandemic began during spring break of his Plebe year, but fortunately both he and his brother had returned home. Calculus class was challenging and “lots of us were struggling,” so some Cadets agreed to work together on the Term End Exam (TEE), collaborating through group texts and chats. Troy was scared of failure. When he was approached about cheating on the TEE, he immediately admitted to the offense (as did 55 of the 73 cadets notified of suspected cheating). The investigation process was grueling, and he felt tremendous anxiety and fear that he would be separated from the Academy. Even worse was his meeting with the Commandant, who chastised him for his actions. Troy was enrolled into SLDP-H (Special Leader Development Program – for Honor) and was mentored by Dr. Alhajjar of the Math Department. Their sessions, which included journaling, discussion, and reflection, focused on the Army Core Values and helping Troy develop his character more fully. Through the SLDP-H process, Troy learned to maintain his beliefs while not letting fear control him. He learned first-hand what happens when people lose trust in you, and how difficult it is to rebuild trust. Troy completed the SLDP-H process and later served as the Honor NCO for his company. He has developed a new and deeper appreciation for the Honor Code and the Military Academy. Throughout the interview he reflects on honor, failure, trust, and what West Point means to him.


topics Honor Teamwork Camaraderie Leadership West Point History Army Athletics
interviewer David Siry
date 19 May 23


name Troy Nachtigal
institution USMA
graduation year 2024