As Tough As They Come

Magee on MMA Campus

Photo: Steve Heaslip CC Times

“To be a successful leader you have to be authentic…you can’t be someone else.” So says LT Wayne Magee.

Born with a rare genetic disorder and placed in foster care as an infant, he began life with a number of disadvantages. Physicians told his foster mother he probably wouldn’t survive his toddler years, and that if he did, he would not fully develop mentally or physically. The disorder, known as cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD) affects development of the teeth and skull. Magee’s slim build is emphasized by another CCD characteristic — the lack of a clavicle or collarbone. Other children picked on him. “You’re different,” Magee recalls them saying.

As a child, Magee found he enjoyed the regimented structure of groups. He joined the Warren Junior Military Band, a community youth touring band composed of students from the Midwest. To earn his Eagle Scout badge, he landscaped around his church. Magee found solace and inspiration in music, playing the trumpet, eventually going on to get a bachelor of music degree from Youngstown State.  

Magee’s background was a good fit for Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he started in 2008 as assistant director of student services and director of the band, honor guard and drill team, then earning a master’s degree in leadership science in 2013 from Northeastern University. Now 34, Magee runs 7th Company as the head of the band and honor guard, and a leadership training program at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Magee is a powerful advocate for students in the band and honor guard programs, securing funding for them to travel to parades and events. “We are definitely a hard-working program,” Magee said of the band and honor guard, which he said put on more than 100 performances a year.

He doesn’t like to say he proved doctors wrong, but rather that he proved his foster mother — the late Ida Magee — right. “I was surrounded by so many supportive people.” Katherine O’Brien, the academy’s assistant director of admissions first met Magee during her freshman year at the Academy. “I would tell you he is one of the kindest people I have ever met. He has the gift of being fully present for students while maintaining a professionalism and respect for the hierarchy that is part of the Academy’s culture, which I think is very difficult to find.” O’Brien said.

The above was excerpted from the Cape Cod Times. Full article can be found by clicking on the link.