While some graduating seniors may be looking forward to summer as a chance to relax, sleep in, and unwind, Michael Fitts is not among them. One month before beginning his senior year at Ad Fontes, Fitts enlisted in the Marine Corps. Boot camp starts less than two weeks after graduation.
“It’s something I always wanted to do, ever since I was a kid,” says Fitts, who will be serving four years, active duty. To get in top physical shape Fitts has been attending Physical training (P.T.) with fellow poolees in Manassas twice a week.
An athlete since his youth, Fitts began ice skating when he was four years old and quickly learned to play ice hockey—now his favorite sport. Fitts has also played varsity baseball for AFA since seventh grade. He’s always played center field, he says, because, “I’m fast.”
June 18 he heads to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, where he will apply his speed and his love of dangerous, rough-and-tumble sports to his Marine Corps. training. His MOS (military occupational specialty) is infantry. “I like to be up front,” he says with a grin.
Fitts’ decision to join the Marines is a long-held dream. “I’ve just always wanted to serve my country,” he says. “What happened on 9-11 has been a huge source of motivation for me to join.” His favorite verse, John 15:13, could not be better chosen for a Marine dedicated to his fellow soldiers, and to his country. “It’s my favorite because it speaks to the willingness to give yourself up for someone else,” says Fitts. “This is the greatest love.”
Fitts has also been inspired by family members in the services. Both of his grandfathers served in the military, one in the Air Force and the other in the Navy. Several cousins have also served, or are currently serving in the Army and Marine Corps. “I really look up to them,” he says.
When one cousin returned from boot camp after joining the Marines, Fitts saw a confident leader who stood tall. “He came back and he was a different person,” says Fitts. “I told myself I wanted that change too.”
After completing basic training Fitts wants serve in Afghanistan before the U.S. ends its combat role and withdraws its troops in 2014. “I’m going to try to volunteer to go there as soon as I can,” says Fitts, whose senior thesis examined the U.S. counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan.
Fitts describes himself as a hard worker who likes stepping up to a challenge. “I always try to do the best I can in everything I do,” he says. After enlisting, his motivation and top physical scores soon caught the attention of his Marine superiors who selected him to be a guide. He currently oversees about 30 newly-enlisted poolees.
“When I was put in charge of the other Marine recruits it was a test for me, to see if I could actually lead them,” says Fitts. “I learned how to talk to people—how to order them and how to do that respectfully and kindly.”
Fitts credits his effective communication skills to the public speaking training he received at Ad Fontes. “A lot of kids are terrified of public speaking,” says Fitts. “I love it.”
He demonstrated this when he enrolled for a semester at a local public high school prior to his senior year at AFA. His first week there Fitts volunteered to deliver his group’s oral presentation since no one else felt comfortable presenting. “I sort of bit the bullet for them,” he says.
Fitts says he returned to Ad Fontes because he missed the academically challenging environment and the sense of preparedness students had. His academic experience at AFA was an uphill climb, but not insurmountable. “It challenges you, but I like being challenged. The academic standards here are high,” he says. “You don’t get that at many other schools.”
Fitts leaves Ad Fontes thankful for his close friendships with students and teachers, and for the spiritual lessons he will carry with him.
“The main thing I’ve learned is that your life is in God’s hands,” says Fitts, “so what He wants you to do is what you’ll end up doing.”