Growing up in Asia, Runyi Wang would worry whenever his grades started slipping. Just a third-grader, the stigma that insinuates grades were a reflection of who you are as a person left him demotivated. “The only things I looked forward to everyday was lunch and going back home,” he says. “There wasn’t much keeping me interested.”
Wang wanted an education that would keep him engaged, challenged and inspired. This was exactly what he found upon arriving at Riverside Military Academy (RMA). With beginnings that date back to 1907, RMA has decades of experience in changing the lives of young men on its 200-acre, scenic campus in Gainesville, Georgia, nestled on Lake Sidney Lanier in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was an experience that certainly changed Wang’s.
“When I first came to RMA, I was only supposed to be here for one semester. As I progressed, I had already met too many great people to leave,” he shares. “It was the interaction that prompted me to stay. It was a new place, a new beginning for me – and I was going to take full advantage of that.”
His educators were definitely glad to have him. Wang started asking questions, seeking help, and fully utilising the resources that surrounded him. The transformation was profound. “I’ve seen him grow in confidence and competence,” says Dennis Bagwell, former Master Sergeant in the Air Force and current Advanced Placement US history teacher. “I’ve seen his leadership skills grow more than anything. For a shy person to assume the role of a leader, especially where he is today as Battalion Commander – that’s a lot of growth.”
While the school is historic, its approach is anything but dated. The overall mission is to prepare young men for college and life – through rigorous lessons, leadership opportunities, competitive athletics, extensive co-curricular activities and the rest of the components that make up a classic military preparatory experience that leads to success.
The Class of 2020 is testament to this, achieving admission to esteemed institutions such as American University of Paris, Auburn University, Texas A&M at College Station, George Washington University, Manchester University and the University of California at Irvine –– amongst many others.
The Leadership Development Programme organises all cadets into a leadership structure that is modelled after a United States Army Battalion hierarchy – a structure that acts as the catalyst for all rank-assignments, assigned duties, subordinate/command relationships, and leadership opportunities within the Corps of Cadets.
To become a cadet, each boy must complete the Recruit on Campus Cycle. During this 30-day instructional period, good fellowship is emphasised. Upon completion, students learn the art of teamwork – progressively assuming duties that increase in both responsibility and complexity.
What sets RMA apart is that its core offerings are complemented with specialised programmes that are relevant, progressive, and future-focused. The best part? They serve as effective pathways to college or university – nurturing foundations that make for an easier transition. Combined, it’s a well-rounded experience that breaks the barriers of traditional classroom learning – and often the confines of the campus.
A prime example is the Aerospace Engineering Programme. Even in the midst of a pandemic, RMA made the initiative to combine the best teaching talent and resources to ensure it was ready for students to partake in. It was expedited to appeal to students curious about the design and flight of aircraft and spacecraft vehicles. This four-course curriculum guides young leaders as they design, build, test and analyse the science behind the forces and physical properties of planes, rockets and unnamed vehicles.
Captain Lee Dickson instructs the programme, utilising years of experience as an Army aviator to develop multi-faceted cadets. Speaking about the programme, he notes its ability to keep cadets engaged: “Assignments encompass essential elements of good project-based learning to engage students in a process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers.”
Another programme that is just as engaging and relevant? The Cybersecurity programme, which originated from a conversation between two alumni and Colonel Stanley C. “Staś” Preczewski, RMA’s president. The goal was to give cadets a stepping stone that will fast-track their progress to a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, a qualification that comes with many benefits –– one being a median salary of US$131,200. This pathway includes an opportunity for students to graduate with a CompTIA industry certificate, that will enhance their chances among a competitive applicant pool –– graduating with advanced experience and potentially dual enrollment credit before taking on university life.
Diverse, with offerings for every interest and a student body that represents 30 countries, and 30 states. Individualised, with an 8:1 student to teacher ratio. Rigorous, with a unique approach that transforms young men into future leaders. It’s clear that for RMA graduates, the future is bright. To learn more about beginning your journey to leadership and academic excellence, click here.