This past Friday, May 20, 2022, forty-three cadets at received their high school diplomas in the 124th Commencement Ceremony to be held at Fork Union Military Academy. It was a beautiful morning for an outdoor event with the mercury climbing into the high 80s, and the sun shining as brightly as the smiles on the faces of the watching parents.
The Commencement Address was delivered by Kendrick F. Ashton, Jr., an alumnus of Fork Union Military Academy's Class of 1994. Ashton is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of The St. James, a company that develops and operates performance, wellness, and lifestyle brands and venues. The flagship project of the company is The St. James Sports & Wellness Complex located in Springfield, Virginia.
Ashton reflected on his own experiences at the Academy and the valuable lessons he learned here that helped shape his own life and success.
"This place," Ashton said, "has nearly perfected a method of demanding self restraint, self denial, self reflection, selflessness, endurance, delayed gratification, discipline, accountability, efficiency, and, most importantly, gratitude. This experience develops a mental toughness, a physical toughness, a resilience and endurance, a maturity of perspective, and a will—a collection of character traits that is priceless."
Ashton reminded cadets that "character is destiny," and urged them to find an follow their own dreams just as he had.
In the Valedictory Address, Cadet Robel Lulseged told his fellow graduates, "This moment is evidence that we've overcome the challenge that we call Fork Union Military Academy, marking the end of an era."
"What I'm taking away from here, that I think is essential going into the future," Lulseged said, "is the importance of having a moral code."
Lulseged has been a cadet at Fork Union Military Academy for six years, finishing his high school career with not only the highest academic class rank as valedictorian, but also with the highest cadet miitary rank having served his senior year as the Battalion Commander of the Corps of Cadets.
Lulseged was also one of ten Honor Graduates in the Class of 2022. In order to earn the distinction of Honor Graduate, a cadet must have completed two years of study at the Academy between grades 9 to 12, must have completed his senior year with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and have met specific high standards in his conduct. The Honor Graduates of the Class of 2022 are:
Nhyiraba Asumadu Addo, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kofi Asumadu Addo of Ghana. Nhyiraba has been in attendance at the Academy since the 10th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.785. He will be attending the Stevens Institute of Technology on partial scholarship in the Fall.
Jack Bowdish, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Bowdish of Raleigh, North Carolina. Jack has been in attendance at the Academy since the 11th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.231. He will be attending North Carolina State University in the Fall.
Sa’eed Dasher, the son of Hallema Mitchell of Northern, Virginia and Anthony Dasher of Freemont, California. Sa’eed has been in attendance at the Academy since the 7th Grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.589. He will be attending the United States Military Academy Prep School in the Fall.
Gavin Demorro, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Demorro of Fork Union, Virginia. Gavin has been in attendance at the Academy since the 7th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.015. He will be attending the Universal Technical Institute in the Fall where he will take part in their NASCAR program.
Michael Luce, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Terry Luce of Woodford, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 9th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.5. Michael will be attending the University of North Georgia next Fall where he plans to participate in the Army ROTC program.
Robel Lulseged, the son of Ms. Yetti Esatu of Alexandria, Virginia. Robel has been in attendance at the Academy since the 7th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.602. He also served as this year’s Battalion Commander. Robel will be attending the University of Virginia in the Fall.
Kieran Meyer, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Meyer of Yonkers, New York. Kieran has been in attendance at the Academy since the 11th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.033. He will be attending Robert Morris University in the Fall.
Grayson Mitchell, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Case Mitchell of Barboursville, Virginia. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 9th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.957. Grayson will be attending Texas A&M University in the Fall where he will be a member of the Corps of Cadets.
Gary Smith, the son of Mr. Gary Smith and Mrs. Olivia Bejarano (Bear-uh-hano) of Mexico City, Mexico. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 11th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 3.504. Gary will be attending the University of Toronto in the Fall.
Massimo Swail, the son of Mrs. Linda Rinaldi and Mr. Ryan Swail of Miami, Florida. He has been in attendance at the Academy since the 9th grade and has a cumulative GPA of 4.107. He will the attending The Citadel in the Fall.
All Fork Union Military Academy graduating seniors will have the opportunity to continue their education at college in the fall as the Class of 2022 achieved the Academy's annual goal of 100% college acceptance.