Michael Jucewicz ’06 received this year’s Young Alumni Award as he returned to Morgan Park Academy to address the Class of 2023 and their families, friends, and teachers at the annual Senior Breakfast on May 26, 2023.
Jucewicz lives in Arlington, Virginia, and works in the Pentagon as a senior budget analyst in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller). He is responsible for managing the formulation of the President’s Budget request and the subsequent execution of over $40 billion in Procurement and Research, Development, Test & Evaluation funding for the Defense Agencies, including US Special Operations Command and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Additionally, he manages a $1 billion fund to combat the effects of inflation on the Procurement and RDT&E accounts of the military services.
“MPA nurtured my love of history and political science, which has been very helpful in my federal service,” he said. “My job puts me at the intersection of the executive and legislative branches, and understanding the dynamics between Congress and the federal government has been crucial to my success so far. MPA also helped instill a deep appreciation for public service within me, and I’m happy to be doing my small part to carry on the long tradition of MPA alumni serving our nation.
“The importance of a liberal arts education is the most enduring lesson from my time at MPA. Critical thinking and the ability to communicate ideas clearly are skills that translate well into any post-MPA life. My teachers and friends constantly pushed me to be the best version of myself, and I’m forever grateful for their support and friendship.”
Morgan Park Academy’s Young Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have achieved great success and offer inspiration as models for leadership and service to others. Previous recipients are Gregory Coleman ’91, Omar Raddawi ’03, Dr. Latania Broyls Logan ’93 and Dr. Lisa Daniel-Olimene ’89.
For more information about the award, please contact email@example.com.
Thank you, Mr. Drahozal, for the warm introduction. Mrs. Sheppard, thank you for the honor of being recognized with the young alumni award during MPA’s 150th anniversary. I’ll be honest, when Mr. Drahozal called and said I’d be receiving this honor, I was shocked that I was still considered young, much less award-worthy, but I am truly grateful for this recognition. Finally, to the Class of 2023, congratulations on your upcoming graduation and thank you for giving me a small piece of your morning.
I, like many of you, experienced MPA’s impact as soon as I stepped on campus. Mr. Drahozal’s history classes, and especially the weekly current events quizzes, nurtured a love of politics and history that has guided me for the rest of my life. Acting in plays under the direction of Mrs. Kurut honed my public speaking abilities and even more importantly, taught me the importance of listening before speaking. Working as the manager of the baseball team under Coaches Drown and Dro taught me so much about the game I love. When I combined that with the public speaking abilities honed with Mrs. Kurut, it put me on a path to be the radio voice of my college baseball team.
Managing the baseball team also taught me how to react when the umpires get into a fistfight with each other after the game. If you want more details about that story, talk to Dro, I’m sure he’ll be willing to share the details about it after you graduate.
On a more practical level, the AP math and science classes I took at MPA got me out of those requirements in undergrad at Davidson College, which gave me more time to focus on the important things, like going to all the home basketball games to see my classmate Steph Curry carve up our opponents on his way to becoming the greatest shooter of all time.
Crucially, MPA also gave me an appreciation of the important role public service plays in our lives. Every day I’d walk into those front doors of Alumni Hall under the words “Duty, Honor, Country” and I knew those words would guide me for years to come.
In my sophomore year, I was lucky enough to interview a fellow alum, retired Col. Richard Stillman from the Class of 1934, on his experiences serving our country in World War II. He served as an aide to Gen. George S. Patton as the Third Army broke through the Normandy beachhead and began its liberating dash across Europe.
Speaking to him about his experiences at MPA and at the literal front lines of history stirred both a desire to serve our nation, and immense gratitude for the service and sacrifice of the MPA alumni who came before me. Walking in today, I was especially glad to see that the two trees in front of Alumni Hall I helped plant my senior year are continuing to grow strong and are providing lasting symbols of our gratitude for their service.
But let’s be honest, the things I remember most about my time at MPA are the great times I spent with my friends and classmates. Some of the highlights include when, like an idiot, I gave my car keys to a fellow actor on stage as a “tip.” He then used said keys to move my car from Western Avenue to the parking lot. Naturally when I went out to go home after rehearsal, I started freaking out about my missing car and how someone must’ve stolen it. After letting me panic for a while about my “stolen” car, he revealed the prank, and then I let loose a stream of expletives that would’ve made Samuel L. Jackson blush.
We were less vulgar during senior week when we set up folding chairs, a Weber camping grill, and ran an extension cord from a classroom to a blender in Jones bowl to make brats and smoothies while we watched the rest of the school go past us. And I can’t forget the trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida, with the baseball team, where we trained in the same facility as Nolan Ryan, and generally bonded in a way that you only can do while traveling together.
Now that we’ve completed my stroll down memory lane, it’s time to look forward to what comes next for you, the Class of 2023. College is an incredible time to learn about both yourselves and the world around you, and I hope you take full advantage of it.
The first thing you can do to maximize your upcoming college experience is to seek out discomfort and ideas that challenge your own. Too much of today’s society is focused on finding echo chambers that only reinforce your preexisting thoughts and biases. But that’s not a recipe for learning, especially in college. Having your friends and classmates telling you how brilliant your ideas are will ensure that you emerge from the cocoon of college into the real world and have a very rude awakening. The best way to strengthen your arguments is to hone them against someone who doesn’t see things the way you do. You’ll find the holes in your arguments and ways of thinking, and be able to better defend your beliefs if you have to convince someone about the merits of your thinking. And who knows, you may learn something along the way.
The next thing to do to maximize your college experience is to lean into liberal education. As you think about what your major is going to be and its associated coursework, keep building off of the foundation in the liberal arts that MPA has given you. Even if you don’t choose the liberal arts as a major, take as many liberal arts classes as you can. Your ability to think critically, write well, and communicate your ideas will be exponentially enhanced, and those skills are transferable to whatever you do after college.
I’m not where I am today because I’m a human calculator; I’ve been successful because I can take a new piece of information, distill it to its most important parts, and present those parts to decision-makers, along with multiple options for the way forward based on that information. I have my education at MPA and Davidson to thank for that.
Finally, be sure to enjoy yourselves. Life is all about balance, and figuring that out starts in college. There’s plenty of time to study hard and have fun, so be sure to do both. The most enjoyable part of your lives is just around the corner, so be sure you take advantage of everything that college has to offer. You’ll miss out on so much if you sequester yourself in a library studying all the time, but if you spend your college years passed out on a frat house couch, you’re also missing out, all while lighting several hundred thousand dollars on fire. Find the balance between these two extremes and your college experience will be truly fulfilling.
Graduating from MPA and moving on to college puts you in the driver’s seat for an exceptional life. Grab this opportunity and wring every ounce out of it, and never stop learning. I wish you all the best as you continue your journeys, and I can’t wait to see what you all accomplish.
I’d like to thank you all for granting me a space in this small part of your graduation festivities. MPA has a 150-year legacy of molding the next generation of leaders, and you are now a part of that legacy. Welcome to the MPA alumni family, and thank you again.