‘We’re fighting and training to eventually become leaders’

PV alum attends United States Merchant Marine Academy

A classmate and Pascack Valley alum Ryan Novakowski at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Novakowski hopes to be commissioned into the Navy for five years.

Contributed by Ryan Novakowski

A classmate and Pascack Valley alum Ryan Novakowski at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Novakowski hopes to be commissioned into the Navy for five years.

Sarah Buttikofer, Staff Writer

(Editor’s Note: This article is in honor of National Military Appreciation Month in May.)

Ryan Novakowski grew up surrounded by service, as his dad was in the National Guard, his grandpa was in the army during World War II, and his brothers were in the shipment at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. 

“We have always been proud of Ryan because he has always taken on a leadership role, even at a young age he had an interest in serving,” said Frank Novakowski, Novakowski’s dad. “Ryan has always been very patriotic, and put others and service above his own interests.”

After graduating from Pascack Valley in 2019, Novakowski joined the armed forces on July 5 and is now a midshipman. He is currently studying marine engineering and shipyard management at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, and hopes to be commissioned into the Navy for five years.

“From there, I would like to continue with government work, and I want to get into Naval Intelligence,” Novakowski said.

Novakowski said expectations are high at New Academy and students are expected to do everything to the best of their abilities, from making their bed in the morning to going on 5k runs at 4:45 a.m.

“We’re fighting and training to eventually become leaders as officers in the armed forces,” Novakowski said. “The great thing about our academy is that most of us will go into the Merchant Marines or Navy, but we also have the option to go into the Army Air Force or Coast Guard as well.” 

Novakowski said an average day at the New Academy is “very busy” and students follow a strict schedule. His biggest difficulty is time management with student responsibilities and training. 

“An average day at the academy would be a 5 a.m. wake up call, cleaning station, and getting everything in order for the day,” Novakowski said. “Breakfast starts at about 6:30 a.m. and the raising of the flag and the national anthem is at 7:25 a.m. Our classes would begin at 7:45 a.m. and continue to four in the afternoon.”

Following his classes, Novakowski completes regimental training, including self defense and margin drilling. He then eats dinner and finishes his homework. 

“Some of the worst experiences you’ll have there actually turn out to be some of the best experiences, Novakowski said. “These are the people that you live and die for, and they will always have your back. You make great everlasting friendships because once you suffer together with these people, you create a strong bond.”

Novakowski said he continues to keep in touch with his classmates during quarantine.

“We’re going to get through this as a nation and as a community,” Novakowski said. “By the end of this, everyone’s going to finally come back together. It is going to be a little different, but at least everyone’s okay and safe.”