Stories of Impact

Kleinschuster ’24: “Something I’m Proud of Doing”

Jacob Kleinschuster '24


Coming from a VMI family, Cadet Jacob “Jake” Kleinschuster ’24 was always aware of the Institute—and he saw how people gravitated to his grandfather, Dr. Jacob Kleinschuster ’64, whenever the elder Kleinschuster wore his VMI hat anywhere in public. An uncle, David Kleinschuster ’94, had also attended the Institute, lending even more weight to VMI as the family school.

It was, therefore, little surprise when Kleinschuster began to think of the Institute as the next stop on his educational path as the end of high school neared. “I wanted to pursue the military … and be a part of something bigger than myself,” he noted. “And then I also heard from tons of alumni that the brotherhood and the connections you make here are second to none.”

Now, just months away from graduation, Kleinschuster is looking back over a cadetship that’s been filled with activities and accomplishments. He’s an economics and business major with an applied mathematics minor who wears academic stars; the historian for his class and, therefore, a member of the General Committee; a member of the Army Ranger Challenge team; and a member of the Cadet Superintendent Advisory Board.

In May, he’ll commission into the U.S. Army as an infantry officer and bid goodbye to his brother, Matthew Kleinschuster ’26, who has since become the fourth member of the family to attend the Institute. But for now, Kleinschuster is still taking advantage of all VMI’s plentiful opportunities. On the academic side, Kleinschuster is a participant in the Institute Honors program, and in conjunction with that, he’s currently writing an honors thesis on the topic of whether or not Virginia should abolish its income tax.

To complete this project, he’s working with three professors—two from applied mathematics and one from economics and business. “They’ve all been really invested in the project and wanting to help me and giving me resources and connecting me with different people,” Kleinschuster said. “So, it’s been a huge blessing. And it’s really helped out because it seems like I don’t really have any limit,” he continued. “Whatever I want to do, someone’s there to help me figure it out. And everyone seems happy to do so.”

Kleinschuster has also appreciated the leadership lessons VMI provides. As a member of the General Committee, charged with keeping VMI’s class system functioning smoothly, Kleinschuster has had the chance to deepen his understanding of how to work well with others. “That position has definitely taught me a lot, just how to manage people, how to be a servant leader … and make sure everyone’s taken care of,” he stated. “It’s been a lot of leadership experience for me.”

“Each day when I wear the ring or wear the uniform, it’s something I’m proud of doing. And that’s the main reason I came.”

Jacob Kleinschuster ’24

Describing the moment of his election as a class officer as “surreal,” Kleinschuster doesn’t take the opportunity to serve lightly. “Getting voted as class historian was definitely the best night of my VMI career,” he stated. “That night, I ended up getting picked, and I just felt honored. I was ready to get to work. I was ready to serve the class, and I was really thankful to get the opportunity to do so.”

Being part of the Ranger Challenge team, meanwhile, has allowed Kleinschuster to stretch his mental and physical limits as he prepares for his career as an Army officer. “[The Ranger Challenge team] is a group of definitely motivated individuals who kind of go above and beyond and get more of the experience when it comes to the Army,” Kleinschuster stated. “The Ranger Challenge team also gets a lot of people from the actual Army coming here to help us teach for FTX, as we had some high-ranking people come shadow us and kind of teach us what to do, which has been great.”

In addition to Ranger Challenge, Kleinschuster has also attended Cadet Summer Training for the Army, where he found that he and his fellow cadets were more prepared than most for the rigors of that program. “I felt myself a lot more prepared than [others] thanks to the Ranger Challenge team, being able to get the extra reps in and being able to talk to people who are in the military and have a better understanding of what it looks like the next three, four years down the road,” he commented.

Family, of course, is never far from Kleinschuster’s mind—as his daily walks to and from barracks take him past the brick with his grandfather’s name on it. “My grandfather and I are very close friends,” Kleinschuster shared. “I would even consider us/ best friends—and he lives in Waynesboro. …. And I get to go hang out with him and have dinner with him. We just kind of reminisce on old stories, and it’s fun to see how the school is changed and how it’s still the same in some ways, and just laughing together.”

The VMI experience, Kleinschuster believes, is one that he “wouldn’t trade for anything.” To be sure, there’s been late nights and early mornings, and the strict discipline of the Rat Line—but there’s also been the chance to push himself academically and physically and to bond with peers similarly focused on achieving their goals.

“Each day when I wear the ring or wear the uniform, it’s something I’m proud of doing,” he stated. “And that’s the main reason I came.”

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