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Collegiate Friars: November 2017

Gruszka and Buinauskas: Two Friars serving our country in U.S. military academies.

Name: Malone Buinauskas

Fenwick Graduation: 2016

Hometown: Western Springs, IL

Grade School: McClure Jr. High
Current School: United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, Maryland)
Current Major: Oceanography
Career aspirations: Naval Aviation, flying hopefully C-130 Hercules or P-8 Poseidon
Fenwick achievements/activities: Math team, Scholastic Bowl, Debate Team (2 years; made it to Nationals my senior year), Volleyball (3 years, freshman through varsity my junior year), Cross Country (senior year to prepare myself for the physical difficulties of military school) and Hockey (3 years Varsity: best time of my life! Playing club hockey at USNA now.)

What Fenwick Teacher had the most influence on you: Ms. Weicher. She taught us not only about literature and writing, but also about life. She also helped me with my application essay, and encouraged me to follow my dreams even when I doubted myself.
What Fenwick Class had the most influence on you: Ms. Logas’s government class senior year. It was a class I genuinely enjoyed going to every day, and it didn’t hurt that Ms. Logas was my debate coach. I took a lot away from that class, even if my AP score reflects the opposite.

 Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: Easily going on the Quetico trip. It was an absolutely incredible experience – the hardest thing I had ever done in my life at that point. It taught me a lot about myself, including how to push my physical limits. Also saw the best stars and sunrises I’ll ever see.

What Fenwick experience changed you the most? As nerdy as it sounds, being on the Debate Team helped to shape who I am. I exponentially improved my public speaking skills, learned about what was going on in the world at the time, and learned that I didn’t actually mind doing hours of research on topics that I cared about. The most beneficial outcome I took from debating was that it taught me professionalism in controversial discussions. Most will notice that debate teams are very close-knit, which results from hours of getting to know each other’s values and beliefs through debating tough topics. I made life-long friends on that team and will always be thankful that it set me up for success.

Describe your college experience so far: The Academy is not easy. You show up June 30th after senior year and suffer a grueling seven weeks of what some consider to be “boot camp,” where you are pushed to your physical and mental limits day after day. Once you get past the summer, it doesn’t get any easier. Plebe (freshman) year is a continuation of plebe summer, where you learn to balance school with sports, military duties, and constant training reminding you that until you finish the year, you don’t matter. This difficult training environment teaches plebes that no one is better than anyone else, and that to succeed, you must succeed as a team. In the Navy, you are only as strong as your weakest link; therefore, there is no success unless all succeed.

As demoralizing as it all sounds, plebe year does end. Unlike other schools, summer leave does not start after graduation. Summer is split into three four-week blocks, and you must fill two of those with mandatory trainings. This summer, I spent four weeks on a 44-foot sailboat with nine other mids, where I learned how to manually navigate the seas along the east coast. The next four weeks I spent on DDG-107 USS Gravely, a destroyer stationed out of the Norfolk Naval base in Virginia. I can’t say where we went, but I can say that it was a grueling experience. This experience is called our “Youngster Cruise,” because when you get back, you are officially a youngster (our name for sophomore). I spent those four weeks following around the enlisted sailors, learning what they do, considering in three years I will be immediately put in charge of a group of sailors or Marines. While it wasn’t fun, it was a really great learning experience, and helped me to see the kind of leader I need to be when I graduate. As for youngster year so far, I’m having a great time. You don’t get trained as much as plebes, so it feels like you are a person again. I decided that I will be majoring in Oceanography and am super excited to see where that takes me. It’s a lot to balance 21 credits with hockey and military duties, but it is surprisingly manageable.

Unlike normal college, we aren’t allowed to leave campus during the week – only Saturdays from 1200-2400 and Sundays from 0800-1800. Therefore, I do all of my homework during the week, and am in bed by 11 most nights. Time management is essential, so the Academy pretty much forces you to learn how to manage 24 hours of commitment within the 24 hours of the day. Next year, I sign my commitment papers that require me to serve at least five years in the Navy upon my graduation. Since I want to go aviation, the minimum commitment will be around eight years, to account for flight school. I’m excited to see what the rest of my time here holds for me and where I’ll end up. In total, I’m doing really well here. I thrive in structured environments, so the military is perfect for me. I’m a better person and leader than I could have ever imagined and can’t wait to travel the world doing something I love for many years to come.

Name: Kyle Gruszka

Fenwick Graduation: Class of 2017

Hometown: Chicago

Grade School: St. Giles
Current School: United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO)
Current Major: Astronautical Engineering
Career aspirations: Astronaut
Fenwick achievements/activities: NHS member, Varsity Baseball and Soccer, 2016 Chicago Tribune Near West October Player of the Month

What Fenwick Teacher had the most influence on you? Mr. Lamkin
What Fenwick Class had the most influence on you? Mr. Lamkin’s Physics class

Best Fenwick experience/the one you would like to live again: Senior year was the best year ever.

What Fenwick experience changed you the most? Definitely Kairos. It really opened my eyes and helped me connect to my classmates in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

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