ANNAPOLIS — Queen Anne’s County High School graduate Mason MacKenzie will be joining the ranks of a few select men and women chosen each year to the attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. A 2019 graduate, MacKenzie has been vying for a spot at the academy since he decided at the age of 10 that this was the school for him.

Through the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Marksmanship program, Mason found that he excelled with rifle skills, and his appointment to the academy was based in part due to his recruitment for the USNA rifle sport team. Shooting competitively on the QA 4-H rifle team since he was 7, Mason has attended the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs for Small Bore and Air Rifle, and received a Bronze Medal in his first visit. He has also received numerous state championships.

Mason is the son of Kamie Mech and Richard Mech of Denton and Fred MacKenzie of Bridgeville.

His mother said his acceptance to the Naval Academy has been a long process from beginning the application the spring of 2018. Mason attended the Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar last June for a week and officially received Congressman Andy Harris’s nomination, also receiving notice from Senator Chris Van Hollen and Senator Ben Cardin that they too would have nominated him, but since Harris had acted first, they reserved their nominations for other candidates.

The actual application was in depth and involved numerous written essays and medical and vision clearances, she said. Mason received his letter of acceptance in November of 2018.

A member of the National Honor Society, Mason said he knew his grades would be an important factor in his acceptance to the academy. He worked hard, he said, taking honors classes and sitting for the SAT several times to achieve his highest possible score.

Passion is what drove him to reach his goal, Mason said. Having visited the campus in Annapolis, he knew he was making the right decision, and he was determined to make his way there.

Mason has several relatives who had served in the armed forces or worked in law enforcement, which he said drew him in part to the choice, but ironically, his uncle who also coached Mason’s rifle team has recently been added to the staff at the USNA and MacKenzie will once again have the opportunity to compete under his instruction.

If he were to offer advice to other students who wanted to achieve a similar goal, “I would tell them not to live just in the present,” said Mason.

Knowing that this opportunity awaited him if he were willing to work for it is what helped him remain goal oriented and focused, he said.

He said he learned service academies are focused on recruiting athletes, but also students who have excelled in science and mathematics. Practice taking the SATs, prepare yourself for your field of study, and visit the school you want to attend, he said, adding, it’s important to know that the place you’ll go is a good fit for you.

Mason plans to be a naval aviator and wants to major in aerospace engineering. The decision to major in this area of study comes from wanting to learn as much as he can about the equipment he plans to pilot, Mason said.

His summer will be short as he reports at the end of June to begin “plebe summer,” a requirement for all freshmen.

“(Mason) has always showed respect, compassion, and strength throughout his life to all those he meets,” said his mother. “He’s helped those that couldn’t help themselves. I am so unbelievably proud of him and know he will serve our country well and make a difference in the world.”

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