Newport, R.I. - The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) celebrated their June 2022 in-residence graduation on June 10 with a ceremony honoring 425 students in the senior-level leadership and intermediate-level leadership courses, including 110 international students representing 78 countries. Additionally, 121 students completed coursework through NWC’s College of Distance Education programs.
The Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro was the keynote speaker for the graduation.
“And now I want to congratulate the Naval War College’s class of 2020, 2021, and 2022. The intellectual acumen and personal drive that you have demonstrated marks you individually as a leader, capable of the analytic, but more importantly, the strategic problem solving that our world requires today,” said Del Toro. “My challenge to you is this: use the strong grounding that you received from this institution to deter and prevent conflicts, not just win them.”
During his remarks, Del Toro discussed the importance of examining history and the critical ability to ask the right questions.
“History must be interrogated, examined, and challenged in order to apply it successfully to the lessons of today. A 19th century French writer Pierre Marc Gaston said that we should be judged by our questions, not our answers,” Del Toro said. “And indeed, as secretary, I found that one of the most important aspects of my job is indeed just that of asking the right questions. You should all do the same because, more than anything else, a healthy curiosity about what lies over the horizon will give you the space and time to adjust course. We need you to go beyond the ideas of this time and better prepare our world for the future.”
As the first in-person graduation since the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Naval War College President Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield noted the resilience of the student body, which also boasted representation from the classes of 2021 and 2020.
“COVID cannot beat us,” said U.S. Naval War College President Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield. “You came, you will walk, and you will remember this day and your experience with the Naval War College for the rest of your lives.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, she later challenged the graduates to continue in their education and development as leaders.
“Do not forget that you learned something. Secretary Del Toro challenged you to remember what you have learned here and to build upon it. Find something that you will focus on instead of returning to old habits. Your academic year here in Newport will only be a small slice of your total preparation, professionally and personally, that will happen throughout your careers,” said Chatfield. “Do not park comfortably in your area of expertise. You know that when you collide with others, their viewpoints enrich your own and help you to frame problems in a new way, to develop new and innovative solutions, to integrate with the joint force across the interagency and with our allies and partners for a more effective set of solutions to challenges against a peaceful rules-based international order.”
At the graduation ceremony, Del Toro announced that one of the Navy’s newest destroyers, DDG 138, will be named after former Ambassador and former Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf who was in attendance at the ceremony.
The distinguished graduates were Ms. Susan Bridenstine, U.S. State Department, who was awarded the Stephen B. Luce Award, and Maj. Deborah Gaddis, U.S. Air Force, who was awarded the William S. Sims Award.
College officials recognized 18 resident students who graduated with highest distinction, scoring in the top 5 percent of the class. Graduating in the next 15 percent of the class, 50 students received distinction honors.
The NWC in-residence graduates were comprised of U.S. and international officers in the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard and various U.S. civilian government employees.
NWC features a one-year graduate-level program that graduates about 600 in-resident and 1,000 distance learning students each year. Students earn Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) credit and either a diploma or a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies or Defense and Strategic Studies.
Established in 1884, NWC is the oldest institution of its kind in the world. More than 50,000 students have graduated since its first class of nine students in 1885 and about 300 of today’s active-duty admirals, generals and senior executive service leaders are alumni. Since creating a program for international officers in 1956, the college has more than 4,500 international alumni from 137 countries worldwide. Approximately 10 percent of these alumni have become chief of their country’s respective navy.
The U.S. Naval War College informs today’s decision-makers and educates tomorrow’s leaders. NWC provides today’s decision-makers and tomorrow’s leaders with educational experiences and learning opportunities that develop their ability to anticipate and prepare strategically for the future, strengthen the foundations of peace, and create a decisive war fighting advantage.
You can watch the graduations on NWC’s YouTube channel here: Graduation Ceremony.