Anthony Melick from Overland Park, Kansas, was the Class of 2023 valedictorian. Please enjoy the inspiring words of his valedictorian speech or watch the video of his address below.
Before I begin, I would like to thank everyone that has made the MMA experience so memorable, including my teachers, coaches, and most importantly, my MMA brothers. The best memories of my life were made at this school with my classmates. Additionally, I would like to thank my family for supporting me every step of the way. They are the reason that I am able to speak up here today as their support allowed me to succeed.
20 years from now, when I reflect on my experiences here at MMA, the first word that would come to mind would be “unusual”. MMA offers anything but the typical high school experience. Instead of a cafeteria, MMA has a mess hall. Instead of T-shirts and shorts, MMA cadets wear military uniforms. Instead of a free Saturday, the MMA corps of cadets enjoys drill practice. MMA has easily been the most unorthodox experience in my life to this point, and many of my fellow seniors graduating today will say the same.
Seniors, whether your tenure at MMA has been 4 months or 5 years, you have done more than what 99 percent of American students have experienced. Boarding at a Military School is not meant to be fun and games, but every one of you found ways to make unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.
On top of the memories made, each and every one of you has also developed many skills that very few average high schoolers have following graduation, including living away from home, maintaining an organized life, and leading others.
As many of my classmates already know, I will be attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland this upcoming June. I consider my acceptance to the Naval Academy as the greatest accomplishment in my life to this point. Crediting MMA for getting me through this process would be an understatement. As a matter of fact, MMA was one of the main reasons I found my calling to serve our country. I already had an interest in serving before MMA because my Grandpa had served in the Navy, but MMA exposed me to the brotherhood that a military model brings to a team.
Applying to USNA was a multi-year process for me that began my junior year. The application includes medical, physical, and academic requirements that often took many hours weekly to complete. The sense of responsibility I had developed as a cadet ultimately helped me stay on track with the rolling deadlines throughout the application. My time at MMA also helped bolster my resume by giving me academic, athletic, and leadership opportunities.
Of course, not everyone is taking the same path that I am in life. Some of you are going to other universities, some of you might travel abroad, and some of you may go straight into the workforce. Whatever you may be doing after you graduate from here doesn't change my message, however, as the lessons and skills you have learned here can help you in life anywhere. The leadership ability you obtained here may one day help you become a successful business owner, and the responsibility you have developed will allow you to raise a happy family.
Seniors of the 133rd Corps of Cadets, many of you are very familiar with this famous line from William Ernest Henley’s Invictus: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. Take this saying to heart and apply what you have learned here, you would be surprised how far you can go. Among us, we might have a future business executive, a famous athlete, or even a president.
As I look upon the graduating class of 2023, I know that I am looking at a hardworking group that is set up for success in a generation where hard work is less frequent. I know that each and every one of you are ready to break the societal norms of today's younger generation and become the leaders that MMA designed you to be.
The experience you have gained from MMA puts you ahead of many others your age. It is up to you and only you to capitalize on the advantages you have earned as a cadet. I promise you that no matter your stature, athletic ability, or intelligence, you can find success in this world of opportunity.
I encourage all of you to apply yourselves, utilize the skills that MMA has taught you, and live a life based around the three words that make up MMA’s motto: “Love, Honor, Truth.”