Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Mundy's Mill High School senior, Tiana Williams, says she lives on her fear of new challenges.
Williams, 18, a cadet colonel in the school's Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), began taking up a military life when she joined the unit during her freshman year. It was a new challenge for her.
Since then, she has been a member of the unit's unarmed drill team, which rose to a No. 2 ranking in the nation during the 2009-2010 school year, and was accepted into an ROTC medical honors summer camp that is only open to the top cadets in the nation, last spring. This year, she is her unit's wing commander, meaning she was the leader of Mundy's Mill's ROTC group.
"I want something with a little fear," she said. "I need to be afraid, because it makes me want to try harder to do my best."
Last week, she received her "orders" for her next challenge in the form of a formal appointment letter from the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md. "I was so excited, because this was my only choice [for college]," Williams said.
Williams was honored at Mundy's Mill on Wednesday afternoon, when State Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) presented a Georgia Senate resolution to the cadet, saluting the youngster for her accomplishments at the school.
"We're going to be keeping an eye on you, and expecting you to do great things in the future," Seay told the cadet.
On hand to witness Seay present the resolution were, Mundy's Mill's ROTC unit instructors, Mundy's Mill High School Assistant Principal Morris Davis, Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley, Deputy Superintendent Stefanie Phillips, and Chief of Human Resources Douglas Hendrix.
"The whole Clayton County Public Schools family is proud of you," Heatley told Williams. "We just know that no matter where you go, or what you do, you're going to do great things."
Williams said she will begin her career at the Naval Academy on June 30, for the school's seven-week "Plebe Summer" program, where she will take academic classes, and learn about Naval Academy physical fitness standards. All first-year students at the academy are referred to as "plebes," instead of freshmen, she said.
"I'm ready to take on bigger challenges, so I can come back here and help them [at Mundy's Mill], like they helped me," she said.
Williams said she has already been instilled with a fear of the Naval Academy, after she visited the school in late March for a presentation for military academy nominees. "I was terrified, honestly, because I was trying to take in the entire atmosphere, with the prestige of the school, and just seeing the midshipmen going about their daily lives, and all of them going to their classes," she said.
She added that she will have to serve out a five-year commitment as a Naval officer after she graduates from the academy.
Her mother, Pamela Williams, said there was a moment on the Annapolis campus where she turned to her daughter in the cold weather, and asked if she really wanted to attend the school. "She said, 'Yes mom, I really want to be here,'" the mother said.
Lt. Col. Raymond "Sky" King, the senior aerospace science and ROTC instructor for Mundy's Mill, said Williams will be able to do well at the academy, because she has already adopted a "go-getter" attitude toward getting ready for life at the academy.
"I will be disappointed if she doesn't do well," he said. "She's already been taking preparatory classes online, and going over what she needs to do for her classes [at the academy]."
King also said Cadet Col. Williams, with all that she accomplished at Mundy's Mill, will leave "very large shoes to fill" in the school's ROTC unit. "She's probably the No. 1 cadet I've ever had the pleasure of teaching," he said.