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NAVIFOR Commander Encourages NPS Spring Quarter Graduates

Vice Adm Kelly Aeschbach commander of Naval Information Forces NAVIFOR congratulates US Marine Corps Capt. Daniel Lim during the NPS Spring Quarter graduation ceremony at King Hall on June 21. Lim, a dual-degree graduate from the Space Systems Operations program and the Department of Defense Management, is one of 335 new NPS alumni, including 27 international students representing 19 nations

Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander of Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), congratulates U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Daniel Lim during the NPS Spring Quarter graduation ceremony at King Hall on June 21. Lim, a dual-degree graduate from the Space Systems Operations program and the Department of Defense Management, is one of 335 new NPS alumni, including 27 international students representing 19 nations.

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) celebrated its 2024 Spring Quarter graduates on June 21 during a ceremony at King Hall Auditorium. A total of 335 warrior-scholars, including 27 international students from 19 allied countries, received their hard-earned NPS master’s and doctoral degrees.

In her commencement remarks, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, commander of Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), spoke of the complex geopolitical challenges facing the United States and its allies – as well as the importance of the graduates and their future contributions to national and global security.

“To state the obvious, none of you gets to pick the world that you graduate into. That world has already been formed. Now I charge you to change it,” said Aeschbach. “As the Navy's information boss, I have said on many stages and at many podiums that while the world and the pace of technology is changing at an exponential rate, the one thing that remains constant and is our true north is our people – our uniformed and civilian warfighters who possess the skills, knowledge, expertise and drive to shape the world we all want to live in tomorrow and pass on to our children.”

To that point, Aeschbach credited NPS for its role in preparing the graduates for the leadership challenges ahead in a world where evolving threats to national security and global stability are rising.

“This school doesn't just graduate scholars – the Naval Postgraduate School graduates warfighters, and it is unrelenting and ruthless in this focus,” she said. “It offers an environment where operational experience and academic rigor intersect to produce leaders who are both thinkers and doers. You, the graduates, embody this intersection; you have the practical experience of service combined with the advanced knowledge gained here.”

In addition to the graduates who received their degrees, NPS also recognized a total of 86 students who earned their U.S. Naval War College Command and Staff diplomas with Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I certification during the Spring Quarter.

Retired Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau, President of NPS, opened the ceremony by acknowledging the diverse and distinguished guests, including allied international representatives from Chile, Indonesia, and Taiwan, who came to honor their graduates.  

“We are very pleased and very honored to be able to use this day of celebration. And for all of you who are out there who are now going to be our graduates, this day is about you,” said Rondeau. “But tomorrow, the day is about the others. It's about the teams and nations that we serve, the governments that we serve, the cause that we serve – and about those who are around us, for whom we work and who work for us.”

Rondeau spoke of the role of NPS in preparing students for future challenges, stressing the importance of leadership, character and intellect. In a nod to the recent 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Rondeau also urged the graduates to embody “stoutness of heart,” quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to the nation on June 6, 1944, as an encouragement to engage in critical thinking and courageous dialogue about right and wrong.

“For you who are here, this is a leadership challenge, an opportunity, an obligation,” said Rondeau. “It's really important to understand that stoutness of heart, and that confidence and competence, and the courage to speak up when you are informed and when you have thought things through, is really critically important.”

During her remarks, Aeschbach highlighted the critical role NPS graduates will play in using innovative solutions to solve the problems they may face.

“Whether it's developing new strategies for cyber defense, improving the efficiency of our logistics and supply chains, or enhancing our understanding of international relations and security, your work has immediate and practical applications,” noted Aeschbach. “You are leaving NPS equipped with the knowledge and skills to make a tangible difference in our operations – ready to contribute to our national defense in new and innovative ways.”

Aeschbach also shared what she calls her “four ships”: mentorship, sponsorship, friendship and partnership. She advised graduates to mentor others, sponsor talented individuals, build lasting friendships and value partnerships, both personal and professional.

“The relationships you have formed here at NPS are just as important as the knowledge you have gained,” said Aeschbach. “The bonds of camaraderie and mutual respect you have shared will be invaluable as you move forward. You are now part of a global network of NPS alumni – a community that spans all branches of our military and extends to our international partners.”

In closing, Aeschbach called on the graduates to continue their education and remain adaptable in the face of change.

“Remember that your education does not end here,” said Aeschbach. “Continue to seek out knowledge. Question assumptions and innovate. Our nation demands nothing less of you, and I know every one of you are up to the task.”

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