Many alumni have offered testament to how Missouri Military Academy has impacted their lives in the long run...
“MMA cleared the path for me so that success was simply a byproduct of the mentoring and discipline I had been exposed to.” — Chase Hughes ’99, leading military and intelligence behavior expert, named one of America’s Top 20 CEOs of 2020
“What MMA gave me nearly three decades ago…are the tools to succeed in life.” — Lawrence “Kwakou” Casselle ’93, chief of staff for the Diplomatic Security Service
“MMA taught me that I can change and shape my life — a belief I practice today.” — Bill Hankes ʼ83, Forbes chief communication officer
“MMA gave me the leadership skills to be able to not only succeed on a personal level but to be able to be a leader on a national level.” — Dr. William Burch ’89, regional medical director in Memphis, Tennessee
... but how does MMA help in the short term?
According to Noah Royse, an MMA graduate from the Class of 2020, his time at MMA transformed him into the young man he is proud to be today. MMA has given him the skills to succeed academically in college and instilled in him the values that determine his actions in his private and social life. Read about how MMA impacted him below.
The MMA Journey
“When I came to MMA, I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed,” Noah says. “I knew my previous high school wasn’t for me, but I didn’t know how to explain that to my parents. And I didn’t really want to explain that to myself because change is scary. But as time went on — adapting, overcoming challenges and making the most of it — with everything that MMA does with academic excellence, values, honor, integrity…all those qualities have made me into the person I am today.”
Noah’s mother, Elizabeth Royse, agrees that his time at MMA was truly transformative, strengthening him as both a student and an individual.
Noah Royse (left) and then-fellow MMA Cadet John Murphy take on the MMA obstacle course in spring 2020.
“I believe Noah’s experience at MMA was invaluable,” she says. “Smaller classrooms, mandatory study hall and more personalized attention from teachers enhanced his overall study habits, desire to learn, and his academics improved with each semester. The structured environment, discipline, diversity and leadership opportunities developed and grew his self-discipline, self-esteem, awareness, confidence and determination.
“[Because of MMA’s training], Noah has a greater sense of where he is headed, what he wants in life, and his determination is fueled by that passion,” she continues. “He knows that he must be self-motivated, disciplined and responsible in making decisions that will impact his future.”
Noah Royse receives his diploma From President BG Richard V. Geraci, USA (Ret) at commencement in 2020.
Bringing MMA Lessons to University
As an MMA cadet, Noah learned leadership through his role as Band Company Commander. He was on the baseball and Fusileers Drill teams and enjoyed participating in the community service program Lunch Buddies, where he was able to mentor local elementary school kids. He was active in the MMA band, yearbook and Future Business Leaders of America team.
Noah is now studying at Oklahoma University, pursuing majors in communications and international security with the goal of working for a federal agency or federal law enforcement someday.
At OU, he is taking a page from his MMA days and taking full advantage of the opportunities and activities available to him at the university. In addition to his studies, Noah is connecting with a new brotherhood through his fraternity and has taken a leadership role as a fraternity chair, helping organize the brotherhood for activities. He serves as president of the clay target team and serves in several different religious groups on campus. He is also a member of the Honor Board at OU.
Noah Royse and his mother, Elizabeth Royse
“He is a natural leader, and his experience at MMA brought that quality to the forefront, and it continues to give him a great sense of accomplishment,” Elizabeth says. “Whether it is his leadership role within his fraternity, the position he holds on the collegiate clay target team, his job or his academics, he utilizes the character traits he developed at MMA on a daily basis.”
According to Noah, while academic and leadership skills have been invaluable to him in college, the most important things he learned at MMA were value-based.
“The most important things I learned at MMA were time management, integrity and accountability, whether you’re by yourself or not,” Noah says. “Do everything like someone is watching through a window. How you present yourself behind a closed door or in front of everyone else matters. Hold yourself to a higher level of self-respect. Also, how you discipline that integrity in yourself.”
MMA Is Forever
While Noah continues to excel in his years beyond MMA, there are parts of MMA that he continues to hold onto. His MMA brothers, for example, continue to be his best friends despite the distance between them.
“I still talk to a lot of my MMA friends, almost every day,” Noah says.
Noah Royse (center) with his MMA brothers and fellow band members at the 2020 National Military School Band and Choir Festival.
In fact, Noah and his MMA brothers rekindle their friendship each summer when they sign up to be MMA summer camp counselors.
“When I graduated, I realized that I would no longer have the opportunity to live with my brothers anymore,” he says. “I found some of my best friends in my life there. Realizing we weren’t going to see each other anymore, we all decided we would work [at MMA] during the summer. We did that summer, then the next summer and again last summer.
“[We work at MMA during the summer] not just to have fun and see each other again but also to help the boys there and be someone they can look up to,” he continues. “For some kids, we get to be a mentor for those couple weeks. It’s one of my favorite things about having a leadership position…trying to instill in them those values that MMA instilled in me so they can benefit from the same experience I did.”
Noah says he plans to continue working at MMA during the summer months and appreciates the chance to give back to the Academy in his own way.
“I like that I can give back to the school that gave me so many opportunities and the chance to be where I am now at OU,” he says.
Noah Royse assists with summer camp operations in 2021.
According to Elizabeth, the MMA family continues to be a part of her life as well, and she also does her part to help the Academy grow and thrive.
“What has impacted my life and carried over even after Noah graduated is the MMA family,” she says. “It is not simply a hashtag; it is real, and it is strong. I would not have made it through Noah’s time at MMA without the love and support from so many that are part of the MMA family. To this day, I have cherished friends that remain, and the bond we share from our MMA experiences can never be broken. I continue to pay that forward by talking with prospective as well as new families in hopes that I can give back that same support that was once given to me.”
Noah Royse shares an emotional farewell at Final Formation in 2020.
Investing in the Future
To current and future MMA cadets, Noah advises them to embrace and appreciate all the ways MMA enriches their lives. The greatest investment you can make is the one you make in yourself, so seize every opportunity you can.
“Take advantage of everything you can,” he says. “When you think about it, what other high school can offer you everything MMA can? Rappelling tower, obstacle courses, another obstacle course, paintball, baseball, football, Fusileers, rifle range, a program that allows you to mentor young kids, the opportunity to get your pilot license, earn college credits while in high school. … Get involved in as much as you can.”
To his fellow alumni, Noah says their responsibility to the Academy stems from supporting their youngest MMA brothers.
“Investing in the future of MMA and investing in future cadets is giving them the same opportunities that you had,” he says. “Give them the chance to go above and beyond in life, just like you had.”
Founders' Day is Nov. 22
In 1889, the community of Mexico, Missouri, had a vision. They wanted a local academy to offer classical education for boys, set a standard of academic excellence and provide learning with emphasis on discipline. Through their efforts and vision for the Academy’s potential, Missouri Military Academy came to be — founded on Nov. 22, 1889.
More than 130 years later, much has changed for the Academy born from that initiative, but our mission remains the same — helping young men reach their full potential.
This Founders’ Day, we honor our founding community’s vision for MMA and celebrate the positive impact it has on MMA cadets and alumni.
Please help us honor the vision of our founding Mexico community. Support our mission with a gift to positively impact cadets. Make a difference today.