For the first time in more than a year, the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) celebrated a graduating class in person during a graduation ceremony for its Spring Quarter graduates, June 18, honoring and recognizing their remarkable achievements and resiliency. While these graduates mostly completed their education in a remote learning environment, during their time at NPS they were able to effectively adapt to overcome the adversity.
NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau addressed the graduating class praising them for their resilience during a global pandemic.
“As we reflect on what 2020 was like, this pandemic may have had the closest thing to the effects of what the Great Depression did, it forced on us separation and disassociation,” said Rondeau. “And there was this extraordinary thing that happened in that virtually there was great learning going on, and you met the expectation of the mission. At NPS, we are you. We are military leaders, educators and staff serving those who serve our nation and serving each other. Together we solve hard problems and create solutions. You are the decisive advantage that we deliver. We are you. And that's the magic of NPS.”
Commencement speaker, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development (N7) Vice Adm. Jeff Hughes, congratulated the 364 graduates, including 23 international students from 15 countries, conveying how the nation’s warfighting advantage in the era of Great Power Competition will hinge on intellectual capital and technological innovation driving solutions.
“Germane to the mission of NPS is the rapidly changing character of war,” said Hughes. “Whomever successfully develops and fields proven operating concepts that capitalize on emerging disruptive technologies will stand a higher probability of success within the competition continuum.”
“While the fight must be prevented, that prevention is never guaranteed,” he continued. “Central to our success is the strength of our intellectual capital and creativity. We require leaders of competence and character who think freely and leverage the strength of diverse thinking from their teams.”
Hughes then noted, “You now possess knowledge, skills and abilities in an enhanced cognitive toolkit that will allow you to drive solutions.”
Hughes charged the students to take their learning to the Fleet to drive outcomes to yield warfighting advantage.
“My charge to you is get comfortable being uncomfortable,” said Hughes. “Be bold, seek advocacy for change, take calculated risks, fail fast and adapt. Never cease your desire for continued learning and drive it to tangible, measurable outcomes. And be resilient and gritty. The nation expects nothing less, and deep down, neither do you.
“We underwrite all that the Constitution offers and must never take our role to support and defend these rights for granted. Your contribution is truly vital and will be judged by future generations. Let's make it count,” concluded Hughes.
Immediately following the ceremony, Hughes and Rondeau paid special recognition to newly-minted NPS graduate Lt. Cmdr. Austin West by recognizing him as the recipient of the William S. Parsons Award for Scientific and Technical Progress, a national competitive award bestowed by the Navy League of the United States. The award was established in 1957 to recognize extraordinary contributions to scientific and technical progress, and is given to a Department of the Navy (DON) officer, enlisted or civilian who has made an outstanding contribution in any field of science that has furthered the development and progress of DON.
West’s research focused on quantifying the effectiveness of adaptive optics to compensate for the effects of atmospheric turbulence on the performance of the High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS), one of the most important, high priority capabilities being developed for defense of the fleet.
“Thank you to the Navy League for bestowing unto me such a prestigious honor,” said West. “Thank you to my advisor for inspiring me and introducing me to the topic. Having just graduated, I am excited to return to the fleet and be a creative leader, and I hope I can tackle the problems that are emerging and the problems that are coming tomorrow.”