The Naval Postgraduate School bid farewell to 265 graduates, including 29 international students from 17 nations, earning 268 advanced degrees during the Spring Quarter Graduation ceremony in King Auditorium, June 16.
University president, retired Vice Adm. Ronald A. Route opened the ceremony with a congratulatory message to the quarter’s graduating class, recognizing the significance of their commitment and accomplishment. “We are here today along with family and friends to express great pride in our students’ academic achievements,” he said.
Route went on to thank the faculty, staff and loved ones that contributed to the students' successes, also recognizing the NPS Foundation for providing the university with an important “margin of excellence.”
He then turned the podium over to this quarter’s commencement speaker, Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who spoke of the journey ahead, new pressures, and career milestones.
“What a beautiful place, you could not have asked for better day to graduate then this,” opened Pandolfe. “It is a great honor to be included in this important and special event ... It is important, because this graduation marks the latest group of superb professionals who will now take their enhanced knowledge and skills and return to the service of our country, and other nations, working toward a better and safer world for us all.”
Today marks a milestone in the lives of each graduate through the receipt of their academic degrees, Pandolfe added.
“You are the product of extensive shared knowledge by gifted and dedicated faculty, with the combined accomplishments of each immediate and extended family member that is here today, because no one does this alone. Appreciate this day, this hour ... It is yours, you have earned it,” he said.
Pandolfe encouraged the graduates to reflect on the experiences, difficult and otherwise, that have made them who they are today, and to look ahead as they return to their respective services.
“You have completed the first leg of your professional journey of development and employment. Many of you have been in combat, and have been tested like few people will, and that has changed you forever,” said Pandolfe. “You have willingly dedicated yourselves to causes that are greater than yourself. You have helped to protect the vulnerable, and extend justice in a dangerous and unpredictable world.”
Here at NPS, you took on the challenge of a demanding academic program, he added. “Yet you have had time to catch your breath and drink from the cut of wisdom offered to you,” he continued. “You have gained a fuller understanding of the opportunities and constraints that lead policy makers to commit our action, our nation, to missions you were tasked to do.
Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses Spring Quarter graduates during NPS’ latest commencement ceremony, June 16. As Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pandolfe represents the chairman in interagency matters, focusing on International relations and politico-military concerns, and also acts as military representative to the Secretary of State.
“Take a moment this morning to give thanks to all the wonderful times you had here, with each other and with these dedicated educators, for in the rush of life we never pause for long. This experience too will slip astern,” said Pandolfe. “The challenges you face will be distinct, and you will draw upon the education you received here to accomplish your tasks in a rapidly changing environment.”
Pandolfe spent a portion of his time with the class discussing global change, and how an expanding population and its desire for opportunity will continue to challenge social order and international stability.
“The traditional model of industrial development that took billions of people off the land and put them to work in factories, as the first step towards modernization and urbanization, likely may not be the path that the next generation of men and women take to achieve progress,” he said.
“Rather, they will leverage sustainable energy sources, cyber connectivity, dynamic networking, wireless banking and e-commerce to create wealth and jobs,” he continued. “Working together, they will forge a new very different route towards a better future.
“At the center of all this activity will be, as always, a struggle between contending schools of thought and political philosophies regarding how we will organize ourselves in the future and what values will guide our societies,” he added.
Pandolfe concluded his remarks by reminding the graduates that they, too, will be at the center of that struggle, but stressed that they will also be empowered to make a difference.
“Many of you will be on the front lines of this struggle. Your knowledge, energy, dedication and compassion will make an important contribution to our collective future,” he concluded.
Pandolfe grew up in New England, graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980, and was awarded a doctorate in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1987. In his role as Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pandolfe represents the chairman in interagency matters, focusing on International relations and politico-military concerns, and also acts as military representative to the Secretary of State.