Severna Park native Ronan Williams made his community proud this May when he graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in English.
When Ronan was in the sixth grade, he began playing on a water polo team that practiced at the Naval Academy. During Ronan’s sophomore year, the Navy coaches reached out to him about playing water polo for the academy.
“The coaches sat me down and talked to me about everything the academy had to offer, and I had never considered going there for real,” Ronan said. “There is something about having a representative sitting down with you. It would be ridiculous not to consider it as an option, so I started looking into it.”
Ronan continued to research the Naval Academy as more schools began to recruit him. During his junior year, Ronan officially accepted.
“I was surprised,” said Ronan’s mother, Kari Williams. “His decision was between Navy and Harvard. I was certain he was going to choose Harvard. Looking back on it, though, he always admired and appreciated what the midshipmen did and what the academy had to offer.”
As a Severna Park resident, Ronan grew up supporting the Naval Academy like most of his community.
“Severna Park is so supportive of the Naval Academy in general,” Ronan said. “I mean, the way they view midshipmen is what got me interested in the Naval Academy. It's a community built around supporting the academy. That is what I wanted to feel at a college anywhere.”
Though Ronan cheered on Navy at many football games before attending the academy, there was nothing like being on the other side. One of his favorite memories was watching the Navy football team beat the Army team after losing the previous three years.
“That is something I will never forget,” Ronan said. “We just destroyed them. I was standing with my teammates and we were jumping and cheering. That was one of my top moments.”
During spring break of his senior year, Ronan was informed that he would not be returning to campus because of COVID-19. His senior year may not have been what he was expecting, but the modified graduation ceremony was more than he imagined.
“Graduation was kind of upended, but the ceremony they put together was really special,” Ronan said. “Normally, it takes place in the football stadium, but we were able to do it in Tecumseh Court, which is actually where you start your Naval Academy process over plebe summer.”
Although Kari was not able to physically attend the ceremony, she was comforted in knowing that it was memorable for Ronan and the other graduates.
“He was the very last person to graduate and was front and center when the Blue Angels flew over Memorial Hall as the midshipmen tossed their covers in the air,” Kari said.
In September, Ronan moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he is attending Nuclear Power School for 18 months. While there, he will learn the foundational skills needed for a career in the submarine force.