Cadet Garret Longstaff, West Point Class of 2025, is a recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship. (Photo by Michelle Kalish)


One day, Ocean City High School alum Garret Longstaff wants to command units of medivac helicopters. He wants to help save lives and make a difference in the world.

The 23-year-old is not a dreamer.

He is already achieving great things through hard work and dedication. He does it for the love of his mother, Sheri Longstaff, and his brothers, Travis and Stone. And he does it for his country.

Longstaff is a cadet at West Point Academy in New York state. He is a junior and has been a standout from the beginning.

Recently, Longstaff, who graduated from Ocean City High School in 2019, was chosen as a Goldwater Scholar by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

“This opportunity will allow me to continue exploring the unknown and connect with mentors and peers of similar scientific interests,” Longstaff said in a news release from the academy. “Being a part of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation will enhance my preparation to become a research professional and an Army officer.”

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship Program is a national scholarship in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The program seeks to identify college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields, according to the release.

Ocean City Councilman Terry Crowley Jr., who is familiar with the Longstaff family, is not surprised by Garret Longstaff’s recent honors.

“He was a decorated student throughout his academic career in Ocean City and was equally impressive as a member of the boys crew team,” Crowley said. “He is an all-around great kid. I know that I speak on behalf of all of City Council in offering congratulations on this honor and we look forward to his successful future endeavors.”

From left, Stone, Sheri, Garret and Travis Longstaff in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Sheri Longstaff)

Longstaff is a chemical engineering major. He is also an active member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the Parachute Team.

Under the mentorship of Col. F. John Burpo, within West Point’s Department of Chemistry and Life Science, and Col. Kit Parker at Harvard University, he does research on bioengineering and material science.

Some of his goals are to create lifesaving medical devices and enhance the efficiency of sensory mechanisms and energy storage solutions. He plans on getting his doctorate in medicine and philosophy of bioengineering and ultimately become an aeromedical evacuations officer in the Army.

In an interview Friday with, Longstaff spoke about how he came to love the natural sciences, why he wanted to attend West Point Academy and who has inspired him most in his life.

“Sonja Cox was the head of the math department when I was in high school. She was a big influence on me and definitely helped me get to where I wanted to go,” Longstaff said of his motivator. “She was my mentor. She always told me to ask the right questions.”

As for joining the military service, he said, “I wanted to pay back all of the opportunities my country has given me.”

The opportunities he has already had at West Point have been amazing and he is truly grateful, he said.

“I would attribute a lot of my success to the Army at West Point. I’ve been fortunate to have some mentors here and at Harvard to do research, all paid for by the Army,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without that.”

And above all, there is one person who has inspired him to be a success in life, his mother, Sheri.

“I would say most of my work ethic is from my mom,” Longstaff emphasized. “She worked six and seven days a week as a single mother so we could keep living in Ocean City and going to the schools there – the best schools in New Jersey.”

Sheri Longstaff moved to Egg Harbor Township after her sons were grown. Travis, 26, is the oldest child. He graduated from Ocean City High School in 2016 and is a Navy pilot. Stone, 19, graduated from Egg Harbor Township High School in 2022.

While her cadet son doesn’t get to come home a lot because of schoolwork and the parachute team, they talk often and are close, Sheri said in an interview Friday.

In the fall, she will go up to watch football games at the academy with Garret and his girlfriend, Sheri said.

“This fall Garret and his parachute team members may parachute onto the football field,” she said.

She spoke of her son’s work ethic that she attributes to him seeing her work two jobs as a single mother, while raising her sons.

“I always told Garret, all my boys, that they had to do well in school. I had to sometimes work two jobs,” Sheri said. “I always wanted them to have money. If the engine light came on in their car, I wanted them to be able to pay to have it fixed. They saw how hard it was for me.”

She also talked of the bond she has with Garret.

“Last August, I was diagnosed with leukemia and the fact he is able to keep up his academics, the parachute team and homework and still worry about me. I couldn’t do it all,” she said. “He does, and I am so proud of him.”

Categories: Ocean City

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.