Alumni Update 2: Donovan Jones LCHS '19

Alumni Update 2: Donovan Jones LCHS '19
Posted on 01/17/2020
Liberty’s homework load is awesome, sort of. Navy Midshipman Donovan Jones attributes his early academic success at the U.S. Naval Academy, in part, to his alma mater’s homework strategies.

“Having constant homework made it so I could improve in class. It really helped,” the 2019 LCHS alumnus said. “When you get to college, there is only so much you can do in a class, but the homework training (from Liberty) teaches you how to get the quality out of your courses. Liberty really helped me be able to do about 95% of what I’m expected to do.”

Lots of smart plebes didn’t receive the solid study-skill training Liberty students do. “Some kids came in thinking they knew what they were doing,” Jones explained. “They say, ‘Oh yeah, I had to do an essay every couple of weeks,’ but, I had to do substantially more than they did; and it turns out, I was prepared for the Academy’s expectations, while they’re still acclimating to this pace for the first time.”

The academic fortitude demanded at LCHS is paying off in college, Jones said. “Being forced to have your classwork done, not next week, but tomorrow, was the perfect preparation for where I’m at now.”

Still, Jones says he faced down some high academic hurdles, and he’s glad his first semester is behind him. “No more Chem 1,” he said with glee. “That’s wonderful! It was brutal. I knew a good deal from physics (at LCHS), and that was a big help.”

In sum, the first semester was, “actually easier than I expected,” said Jones. “They always tell us it’s the most rigorous academic program there is. I actually didn’t struggle as hard as I thought I was going to.”

On the non-academic side of things, “It is not entirely what I expected,” Jones said, “but I’m glad I’m there. It’s strict, and there are lots of rules, but they do a really good job of humanizing the military.”

Training up for the Profession of Arms is definitely not for everyone. On Jones’ first day at the Academy, three plebes disappeared. “They just left,” he said. “They couldn’t deal with the idea their detailers who yell at you are just a few years older than you.” Basic training was pretty grueling.
“I was prepared, but not as much physically as I thought I was going to be,” Jones admitted. “The whole point is to push everybody to their limits. There were times when my body was so stressed, it was just shaking the whole time.” Some didn’t make it. Out of the whole regiment, “we lost about 100 plebes,” he said. “That’s about 1% of those of us who went in.”

Jones’ definitely squared up to some painful physical tests. On the first day of his boxing/wrestling class, “I got punched hard in the face,” he said with a laugh. “That put me into ‘full-rage’ mode, and I had to run five miles before I regained my composure. It took that long to run the anger out.” All plebes are required to take boxing, wrestling, and swimming.

Asked whether, after just a few months on base, he feels he made the right college decision, Jones answered directly: “One hundred percent. No doubt.” His goal is to become a Naval Flight Officer, or possibly pursue Marine Air.

“It’s an honor just to be one of the few chosen to go (to the Naval Academy),” he said. “I’ve met some good friends. I absolutely love the people in my Company (14th, Cobras). At this point, they’re more than friends, they’re family. We do everything together – eat, sleep, go to class, drill – literally everything.”

As Liberty students head into the second semester, Jones shared some advice: “The second semester goes really fast, but it’s also the most important semester. It’s the time when you actually make the biggest impact on your grades.”

He recommends students push themselves. “You set your own standard, and if you don’t set your standard high now, then that will define what you’re going to do when you leave high school,” he said. “In high school, you can set a high standard at the beginning of every semester. But, if you were a slacker in high school – if you smelt the barn and just dealt with it – then you’re never going to achieve anything.”

The former Liberty Class Rep., and House Captain urges students to get involved in the school’s leadership system. “Being a House Captain, and Class Rep was super, super helpful to me. I know how to process, and analyze information, but being forced to know how to talk to people, learn some persuasion skills – this gave me some of the missing pieces in my leadership style, and taught me how I want to lead. There’s no such thing as leading just one way.”

For LCHS students interested in getting into a service academy, Jones said it’s important to learn how to work out, and maintain physical fitness. Being involved in sports is not enough.

“You need to decide early that you want to go to an academy,” he said. “Deciding freshman year is best. You need to know ‘I want to serve. Period.’ All academies want the same thing, and even if you enlist, you have to be mentally, morally, and physically ready. It’s what the military is based off of.”

Reality checks are important, too, Jones advised. “Ask around what other people think of you. If someone thinks you’re a complete jerk, you might have something you need to change morally about yourself. If you’re looking at your grades, and you have a lot of Cs, you need to do something about that. If you’re having a hard time with like pushups, do some more pushups. Try and make yourself as well-rounded as possible.”

Prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude count. “There’s no way to succeed in the military if you don’t have every aspect of yourself under control, as much as you can,” Jones said. “If you have any imperfections, the military will expose them, and develop you by forcing you to turn your weaknesses into strengths.”

Anchors Aweigh! Go Goats!