The 51st Annual Marine Military Academy Commencement Exercises took place May 20 in Yeckel auditorium. Xiaolong Tong of Beijing was the valedictorian for the Class of 2017 while Carlos De Leon of Ranch Viejo, Texas, was the salutatorian. MajGen David Garza, USMC (Ret), was the special guest and Timothy Belber, J.D., AEP, Class of 1974, was the guest speaker.

In his speech, Mr. Belber shared four pieces of wisdom with the graduates.

1) Nothing is easy. Nothing is hard.
Everything in life is achieved through steps. Break your goal down into parts and then take the first step. Continue moving forward a step at a time and you will eventually reach your goal.

2) Offer something unique to the world.
Pursue your interests. Find what makes you special and do that. A life of passion and/or service does not conflict with a life of success.

3) Learn something from everyone.
Even difficult people can teach you something. You cannot control others, but you can control yourself. In every situation, be your best so you can learn and grow rather than regress.

4) Set conduct rules for yourself. There are four good rules inspired by the MMA Right Guide: 1) Show up on time; 2) Do what you say you will; 3) Say “please” and “thank you;” and 4) Protect your reputation by doing the right thing when no one is watching.

Click to see photos of the Class of 2017 Commencement Exercises.
Click to see photos of the Class of 2017 Graduation Parade.

MMA Graduation 2017
Quentin Hyytiainen-Jacobson of Spokane, Wash., accepts his diploma from Superintendent Col R. Glenn Hill (far left), special guest MajGen David Garza and guest speaker Timothy Belber, Class of 1974 (right).