Savannah Norton, My Everett News
Laura Majewski is nine months into four years of hard work at U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA.) Out of nearly 2,000 applications, Laura was one of 380 young adults who was offered an appointment to USMMA, and one of 279 who reported to the Academy last summer.
This K12-powered student attended Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA) for middle school and Insight School of Washington (ISWA) for high school. She graduated from ISWA and Everett Community College in Spring 2016.
USMMA is one of the five U.S. service academies, but it is unique in a key way: upon starting at the Academy all students – or midshipmen – are sworn in to the Naval Reserve, making USMMA the only service academy whose members could be called into service at a time of war.
At the end of their four-year education at USMMA, Laura and her classmates are committed to serving either eight years in the Naval Reserve or five years active duty in the branch of their choice: Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army or Coast Guard.
“I believe that being an online student allowed for an easier transition for Laura to USMMA,” said Laura’s mother, Jean Majewski. “As an online student, being self-motivated and having good time management skills are keys to success. These qualities have served Laura well, not only through the extensive application process, but at the Academy as well.”
Laura’s time at USMMA has been challenging so far, but it also has been very rewarding.
“I’ve learned so much,” Laura said. “I noticed definite academic, personal, and professional development and growth in myself, which makes all the hard parts of being here worth it. The hardest thing is being so tired and having to do so much during the day.”
Laura usually gets to bed around midnight and sometimes has to wake up at 4:30 a.m. for regimental duties and class. “We have some regimental training in the evening as well, and then the rest of the evening is for studying, cleaning, and working out,” she said.
The 18-year-old has many accomplishments since starting at USMMA, including becoming a member of the Color Guard and being selected as one of two Company Fitness Officers.
Her mother explained that Laura’s passion for serving her country was aided by online school because it allowed her to spend more time with her family.
“We have always tried to instill a sense of respect and gratitude for our servicemen and women,” Jean said.
Laura’s parents were homeschooling their children before enrolling with WAVA. “I was attracted to this idea because I wanted to be sure they were getting all the necessary academics through the high school years,” Jean said. “Our son wasn’t high school age yet, but we were mentioning it to someone and they told us about WAVA. We learned as much as we could about it and decided it would work well for our family.”
Jean appreciates that through online school, she could stay hands-on with her children. “I could be aware of what they were learning while knowing they were also receiving any additional support they needed from dedicated and caring teachers, as we came to find out was the case at both WAVA and ISWA,” she said.
Laura, who hails from Everett, also attended a specialized Running Start program called Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) through Everett Community College.
“Through the director of ORCA, she learned of a part-time position as a deck hand on a commuter ferry to Hat Island,” Jean said. “It was this job that awakened her passion for working on the sea, and it seemed natural to her to combine that passion with service to our country.”
Laura will start her Sea Year this fall; midshipmen spend one-third of their sophomore year and two-thirds of their junior year at sea, working on various classes of vessels to gain valuable hands-on, practical experience. This means that four years of academics must be completed in three years.
Additionally, Laura is currently in training as an EMT and, rather than coming home this summer, she will remain on rotation to attend to the medical needs of the incoming class during their indoctrination period. She has also earned a gold star in each of her first two trimesters. Gold stars are awarded for a GPA above 3.5.