Scholarship Established in Memory of Midshipman Jason Jablonski ’17

A few weeks into plebe year, Midshipman Kyle Festa ’18 separated his shoulder during a club hockey game. At the end of the game, Festa’s parents, Fred and MaryLynn, looked at their heavily wrapped, slightly green son and wondered what to do next.

Midshipman Jason Jablonski ’17 swooped in, coordinating arrangements back to Bancroft, ensuring Festa made it into his rack that night and assuring his nervous parents he’d get the injured plebe to medical the next day—after which he phoned the Festa parents to update them on their son’s condition.

“It was such a mature thing to do,” said Fred Festa, Kyle Festa’s father. “He really made an impression on us.” 

Jablonski, who was also the younger Festa’s company mate, continued to make an impression on the Festa family over the next several years. Kyle Festa followed in Jablonski’s footsteps in choosing an economics major and pursuing independent study at the London School of Economics.

The entire Festa family grieved when Jablonski passed away from complications from leukemia in November 2016, but a new scholarship will help his memory live on at the Academy. Established by a gift from Fred and MaryLynn Festa, the Midshipman Jason D. Jablonski ’17 Memorial Scholars Fund for Economics will support study abroad opportunities for midshipmen studying economics, with a preference for those doing so at civilian universities.

“We wanted to help keep Jason’s memory alive in a way that was important to him, and important to the Academy,” said Fred Festa, who with MaryLynn has previously supported Naval Academy international programs. “There is a tendency for midshipmen to become inundated with ‘midshipman life’ and lose sight of what others are thinking and doing in other environments. Midshipmen need to be exposed to as much as possible to help them sharpen their leadership skills and learn to navigate difficult situations.”

Lori Jablonski, Jason’s mother, believes her son—who paid for his international study experience himself—would thoroughly approve of the new scholarship.

“It is critically important for all of us, but especially those serving in the military, to understand what’s happening in the rest of the world,” she said. “It’s hard not to get tunnel vision and focus only on what affects us at home in the U.S. International study allows midshipmen to gain exposure to other cultures, to learn how to best relate to them, to recognize the strengths of these cultures and the ways we can work together for the greater good. Jason would be thrilled.

“It’s hard to put into words the testament this gift is to the type of person Jason was. He built so many relationships and was always such a positive influence on people. For the Festas to have thought so much of him from the first time they met him is completely humbling.”

The U.S. Naval Academy Foundation welcomes additional support for the Midshipman Jason D. Jablonski ’17 Memorial Scholars Fund for Economics. Those interested in contributing should call 410-295-4100.


© 2018 United States Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation 410-295-4000