Michael William Hajek III ’80 and his family have been long standing supporters of Admiral Farragut Academy and have witnessed and supported the growth and success of the school’s programs and activities.
Hailing from St. Petersburg, FL, Hajek attended Admiral Farragut Academy during his junior year of 1978 after he transferred from St. Pete Catholic. His mother Rusty Hajek, who worked at Farragut as an administrative assistant, sent her son to the school as one of the first ever day cadets. For Hajek, the military aspect wasn’t a big issue.
“I felt more at ease at Farragut because everybody was getting treated the same way,” said Hajek. “Once I learned the process, which ironically took me a year and a half, I enjoyed it. At times the regimentation could be very physical. If you did something wrong, you ran a lap. If you did something wrong again, you ran five laps and you always had your rifle with you.”
At Farragut, he played two years of varsity baseball, one year of soccer and football. He even made the all-conference football team his senior year. But it was his teachers in the classroom that helped shape him into the person he is today.
“Although he was a tough as nails, Colonel (Richard) Kennedy was one of the people that really motivated and inspired me,” said Hajek III. “He was a great mentor and helped me in a very methodical way. I always liked his style. The fatherly image that helped me stay in line was no doubt (Captain) Orie Banks.”
What he learned at Farragut is still useful in his professional life today. “The way I dress is directly related to Farragut. I still shine my shoes, keep a gig line and keep my hair tight. I have that ‘early morning wake up and get motivated attitude’ that I learned at Farragut. I’m always very grateful for it.”
Upon graduation, Hajek III received the ranking of Petty Officer Second Class. He attended the Citadel for a short time before returning to Florida. Through many different paths, he found his way to St. Petersburg Junior College where he met his wife, Karen. She motivated him to take school seriously and he finished junior college in 1990 and got his degree in accounting in 1993. He and Karen are both CPA’s and started their own business, Hajek and Hajek CPA, in September of 1996.
It was the tradition and military values instilled in him that made it an easy decision to send his sons, Michael IV ‘15, Matthew ‘17 and Mark ‘20 (non-grad), to Farragut. Michael IV began attending Farragut in 1st grade, Matthew in 1st grade, and Mark started in PreK.
“Farragut has done a good job at being a ‘third parent,’” said Hajek III. “It helped us focus more on the things that are most important to us and to them. They learned about the world through other cadets who were from all over the United States and different countries. They learned about how people worked.”
For their oldest son, Michael, Farragut was a place of opportunity and he was very involved. In addition to being an honor roll student from 9th to 12th grade, he participated in Multicultural Club, Buddy Mentoring, and was a member of both the NJHS and NHS. In addition he was a three season athlete and was a member of swimming, cross country, soccer, track and field, and baseball. To prepare him for an early college experience, the Hajek’s decided to have Michael be a boarding student during his senior year of high school.
“His one year of boarding experience was one of the main reasons that he is successful in college. He had that first little jump out of the nest; as opposed to just waking up one morning, being in college and realizing one day that he was going to be taking care of himself.”
It was the Scuba and Aviation programs where he found his niche. Michael obtained multiple certifications for Scuba as well as received his pilot’s license by the end of his senior year. With the Scuba program, he dived at world-renowned dive sites throughout Florida such as Devil’s Den, Ginnie Springs, Manatee Springs, and the Florida Keys. After Michael’s, the Hajek’s decided to give back to the school so future Farragut cadets could have the great experiences that their sons had. They donated $20,000 to the Farragut Scuba program for new equipment and classroom space. Since graduation in 2015, Michael IV attends the Citadel just as his father did and is projected to graduate in 2019.
Matthew, who is graduating this year, currently holds a 4.24 weighted GPA, is dual enrolled at St. Pete College,and is a member of the National Honor Society and DECA, which prepares students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Throughout his time at Farragut, he has participated in various sports including basketball, baseball, and is planning on getting his pilot’s license when he graduates. He is looking to attend either Clemson, Georgia Tech or the University of Miami with a focus in engineering.
Upon graduation, Matthew is hoping that both his father and brother, Michael, will be able to be a part of an on-going alumni tradition. “Matthew has requested to have Michael on the stage with me when I present him with his diploma at graduation,” said Hajek III. “It’s such an amazing moment where father and sons will get to stand on stage, hug, and be able to hand over Matthew’s diploma. It is a great touch to the ceremony while ushering them to the next phase of their life.”
Mark attended Farragut until eighth grade, with a 3.38 GPA, and played basketball, cross country, and soccer. He is currently at St. Pete Catholic and plays basketball and will graduate in 2020. Although not at Farragut anymore, the small class sizes and exceptional teaching through middle school gave him a superior foundation for life.
“Farragut has a unique ability to give students the discipline they need to be professionals. Life is about being a professional in whatever you do. If you are a mechanic or a CEO of a big company, you must be a professional in your environment,” said Hajek III. “With my sons, Farragut also showed them the ability to find their independence. They oversaw their time in middle and high school and did significantly more at Farragut than they would be able to do at any other high school.”
Michael Hajek III also supports the future of Farragut as a member of the Board of Trustees.