By Marlys Good
It was Oct. 21, 2013, when Greybull High School senior McKenna Powers received word that she had received her official appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and it was July 1, 2014, when she was inducted into the academy.
Fast-forward to May 25, 2018, and Powers was one of 1,042 young men and women awarded degrees from the prestigious school. President Donald Trump, who gave the commencement address, stayed to congratulate each and every graduate; the graduates were also honored by a fly-over from the Blue Angels.
McKenna earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in Spanish. The new ensign is now serving as a surface warfare officer in San Diego.
Graduating from the Naval Academy was the realization of a goal McKenna had set when she was 14 years old; a goal partially inspired by her father, Duane, who spent 20 years as a Navy pilot.
When she was 16 she attended a weeklong STEM camp at USNA, where she got “hooked.” The following year she attended the academy’s Summer Seminar, where participants are given a taste of academy life.
It took four years of hard work, determination and perseverance but McKenna has realized her dream.
In an e-mail to the Standard, McKenna wrote: “The Naval Academy was a very rewarding experience. I was afforded many opportunities I hadn’t dreamed of, including learning Spanish in Mexico and spending a semester in Spain at the Spanish Naval Academy. I also made some incredible friends and learned lifelong values like determination, patience and compassion.”
The new ensign said, “It was by no means easy, but it was worth it.”
She’s looking forward to a deployment to the Pacific in the near future.
Looking back, McKenna has this bit of advice for kids in Greybull: “Explore the world. Please, please, get out of Greybull and see what is out there. The United States is full of opportunities; we kind of live in a town that is easy to get stuck in. Take advantage of your small class size and get extra help from your teachers (they want to help you), so when the time comes, you will have applied yourself and many opportunities await you.”
Looking back through Greybull’s history, McKenna is the first woman from Greybull to attend a military academy.
She is the daughter of Duane and Cindy Powers and the granddaughter of Gene and Louis Powers, all of Greybull.