Don’t expect anything too sappy when Amanda Murray delivers her speech to the Class of 2014 at Genoa-Kingston High School’s graduation ceremony May 18.
Her words will look toward the future – a future that for the 18-year-old appears right on track after her acceptance into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., this fall.
Maybe she is one of the 975 high school students the academy accepted out of 18,000 applicants this year because she was valedictorian, vice president of the student council and a member of the National Honor Society. Maybe it was her more than 120 volunteer hours or her participation in dance, volleyball, softball or cross country while in high school.
No matter the reason, the future for the daughter of Coleen and Jim Murray looks bright.
Murray will graduate this month before heading to the East Coast in July for Plebe Summer, a seven-week training program meant to lay the foundation of the academy’s four-year professional development curriculum.
The academic year then starts in August, and Murray plans to study naval architecture, something she came to love after participating in Illinois Drafting Educators Association competitions the last four years.
She recently spoke with Lawerence Synett about her future.
Synett: What made you want to go to the Naval Academy?
Murray: My closest cousin is a freshman at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. Ever since I was in middle school he wanted to go to West Point. He explained to me what it was like, and ever since then it has been a goal of mine. It’s a world class education that is paid for, which is awesome.
Synett: What made you want to be so active the last four years, and how have you been able to balance those things with school?
Murray: The main reason I was so active is because I wanted to go to the academy. I really like being involved in my community. If you can help people, why not? It comes with a lot of stress, but it forces you to build time management skills and focus on the task at hand instead of just worrying about everything that you have to do.
Synett: What is naval architecture and why did you decide to study it?
Murray: Basically, you build and design boats and submarines and the docks and ports they go into. Architecture has been a huge part of my life since my freshman year and it seems like a pretty assuring career for me. Our drafting teacher, who is now the athletic director, is really into his work. He had a lot to do with me wanting to go into it and taught me everything I know.
Synett: How are you preparing for the academy?
Murray: The mental toughness is what I am focusing on the most because you just can’t give up. The longest I have been away from my family is for like a week. This is going to be a little different, but I know what I am getting myself into. I’m going to be creating bonds and building relationships that will last a lifetime. These people are going to be my brothers and sisters, and I’m going to be creating a new family.