Story by Sgt Shellie Hall on 08/05/2019Each summer, the Marine Corps hosts the Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy to prepare rising high school juniors and seniors for their futures and return better leaders and citizens to society. Those selected are invited to attend the week-long academy held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, during the summer.
Annalee Stewart, a Gulfport, Mississippi native, and avid cheerleader, swimmer and member of numerous clubs, applied for the program after speaking with a relative who served in the Marine Corps.
"Two of my older siblings are in the military, and I really look up to them," said Stewart. "I was trying to find ways to get involved with the military to see which branch I'd be most interested in. The SLCDA program caught my eye, and I wanted to look into it."
Seeing the military experiences of her siblings and extended family members has been a huge inspiration for Stewart. While attending the SLCDA, Stewart hopes to learn more about the military, gain mental toughness and meet more like-minded people.
As an athlete, Stewart has learned to work as part of a team and gained numerous intangible traits and skills similar to those she will gain and sharpen during the SLCDA.
"Cheerleading has definitely taught me to always have a good attitude and to be adaptable to your surroundings," said Stewart. "You have to find the good in situations. Even if your team isn't winning, you can always find a way to cheer them on."
Like many students headed into their senior year of high school, Stewart is still unsure about what career path she will take after graduating. Stewart is interested in pursuing a career in the medical field but has always considered joining the military.
"My dad and family (have) always talked about the military, and I haven't thought about a future without some form of the military in it," said Stewart. "It's always been an important thing for me."
For more information about SLCDA, visit https://slcda.marines.com/.