Each year, Admiral Farragut Academy sends an accomplished list of graduates off to college and the working world. The Class of 2016 once again demonstrated excellence, boasting a 100 percent acceptance into college. In addition, over $5.5 million was awarded in scholarship money to these fine young men and women.
Acceptances included elite universities such as: Notre Dame University, Vanderbilt University, and Wellesley College, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, Rice University, Georgetown University, North Carolina University, University of Miami, Georgia Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The class has one National Merit Scholarship recipient.
Matriculation includes the following impressive list of colleges: Johns Hopkins University, University of Florida, The Citadel, Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (Swiss), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona State University, Boston University, University of California – Irvine, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University
Sasha DeSilva ‘16 thanks Farragut for helping shape the Class of 2016 and the group’s excellence at the school’s 82nd commencement; Vince Scott ‘85 returns as former valedictorian to give commencement address
Introvert to Extrovert
When Sasha DeSilva first arrived at Farragut, she admittedly was an introvert. Over time, though, Sasha shed her shyness and developed into another one of the outstanding graduates of Admiral Farragut Academy, graduating with honors as the 2016 valedictorian. As she told the Class of 2016 and the others in attendance at Farragut’s 82nd commencement last Saturday, she grew to understand the importance of the uniform and the merits of student leadership, thanks to the culture of Farragut.
“Farragut wouldn’t allow me to slip under the radar as we would have in other schools. Teachers encouraged us to explore our interests and pursue new ones. Older students would, more often than not, guide us in the right direction when we struggled with indecision.”
Indeed, Sasha thrived. Like many valedictorians (and Farragut graduates) before her, her list of accomplishments – along with her peers – encapsulate the true essence of Farragut.
“Farragut and the people in it, whether you want to admit it or not, have transformed us into a class of artists, incredible athletes, licensed pilots, award-winning writers, slightly annoying math-enthusiasts, and the most skillful leaders I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting,” she said.
In recognizing the greatness of our classmates and ultimately thanking a plethora of people towards the end of her speech, Sasha exhibited the type of generosity she displayed over her five years at Farragut.
She capped her final words as a Farragut student with the best possible advice for future alumni that would soon join the likes of astronauts, military leaders, real estate tycoons, athletic champions, and world-renowned chefs.
“I don’t want to tell anyone how to live their lives, but if I had to give a piece of advice, it would be this. Helen Keller once wrote that ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’ Taking risks is the only way to live a successful and happy life. This sense of adventure may manifest in the smallest of ways but will always have the biggest impact. You can change career paths, or start your own club, or even just make conversation with a stranger during Freshman orientation. Have a little faith in yourself and rule your life not with fear but with courage, compassion, and confidence.”
Over the course of Vince Scott’s illustrious 21-year Naval career, the Battalion Commander and Valedictorian from the Class of 1985, the Missouri-native took with him a graduation speech he had discovered as a student of Naval Science 101.
“Never give up.”
That was the entire speech, written and delivered by one of the greatest leaders of all time, Winston Churchill, Vince revealed during his commencement address. Vince mentioned briefly Churchill’s failures early in his career and he used this example to emphasize perseverance through hard times.
“’Never give up’ is one of those pebbles I would like to recommend to you,” Vince said. “Never give up. This one pebble can add a lot to your future. Will you get knocked down? Sure. We all do? Will it hurt? Yep. No doubt. Don’t give up.”
In closing, Vince advised graduates to put pearls of wisdom like perseverance and integrity in a metaphorical toolkit, using it when necessary.
“There is an old proverb that goes ‘Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.’ Even those small pebbles you collect can add up.”
From anonymous to predominant
Brooke Liu ’16, the 2015-16 Regimental Commander, spoke eloquently about her journey at Farragut and reminded the future cadets “to plant the seed of highest hope.” As she said, Brooke came from 7294.7 miles away west of the United States and proudly realized many of her dreams. She spoke fondly of navigating her way from being “an anonymous cadet wandering on the grinder” to running the regiment. She described the elation of teachers like Ms. Eleni Stone upon hearing the news of “a four on the AP exam” or Mr. Rob Ewing upon receiving a phone call that she had achieved private pilot certification. Most importantly, Brooke said she would take away from Farragut the type of leadership, confidence and determination that will leave an indelible mark on her life.
Profiting from Farragut’s military structure
For Michael Cooney, the Class of 2016 salutatorian, Farragut may have been “right down the street” but it still presented the same type of conundrum as a new student coming from the other side of the world. “I still had no clue of what to expect because of its military aspect.” Yet, Michael emphasized how the Class of 2016 resembled many other classes in that the cadets profited from the military structure, becoming leaders who will carry those leadership traits forward in their respective lives. A large part of that foundation resulted from the support system he had throughout his time at Farragut.