By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kellie Arakawa, Naval Post Graduate School Public Affairs
Graduating students from the Naval Postgraduate School received a personal congratulations from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead as they walked across the stage in King Hall during the 2008 Winter Quarter Commencement Ceremony March 28.
NPS President Dan Oliver introduced Roughead as an "accomplished professional, a distinguished scholar and a dedicated public servant." He called the 29th CNO an inspirational leader and a strong supporter of NPS. "It is very special for us to have him here so very early in his tour as the Chief of Naval Operations," said Oliver. "I am proud and delighted to have him here with us on the podium today." Roughead praised the graduates and noted the importance of their experience at NPS.
"Your time here has been a chance for all of you to examine and explore those issues which will confront our Navy, our armed services, the navies and armed services of other countries and the agencies with which we work … it has been a chance for you to reflect on your future as an officer and as a leader," he said.
"At the end of the day, it's not been about grades, it's not been about the papers or about the projects," Roughead continued. "It's been about an experience and a time to think about what you will do in the future - in the future of your service and in the future of your nation. The papers may be lost, the projects may be forgotten, but what will remain are those revelations that you had, those lessons you learned and the visions that you have developed by being in this extraordinarily rich environment. They will shape your perceptions and more importantly, they should shape your actions as war fighters and as leaders." Roughead called upon the graduating class to deliver their lessons learned at NPS to the people they will lead into the future. From engineering to foreign relations, he advised the graduates to integrate their new education with what their fellow service members have been learning in the fleet.
"The combination of your intellectual exploration, your experiences and your minds, combined with what they are doing will continue to make us a force for peace in the years ahead," he said. "That is what will ensure our safety, our security and our prosperity well into the future."
In closing, Roughead offered the 241 graduates one last lesson before their return to the field and fleet.
"On a personal level, my advice to you is to continue to learn," he said. "Never stop exploring, never stop reading, never stop focusing on the things that began here in your studies and advancing them and influencing the events ahead."
Finally, Roughead advised the graduates to maintain balance in their lives. It is important to balance both personal and professional aspects, because that too, he said, is expected of a great leader.
As the CNO shook the hand of the final graduate, family members and friends burst into a joyous applause and took to their feet in honor of the school's newest alumni.
"NPS graduates, you should be justly proud of what you have accomplished here," said Oliver. "We will be proud to call you NPS alumni and we will look forward to hearing great things about you in the future."
Following the commencement ceremony, Roughead met with the graduates at a reception in the Barbara McNitt Ballroom.
Lt. Raja Hussain, the recipient of the Monterey Council Navy League Award for Highest Academic Achievement and The Louis D. Liskin Award for Excellence in Regional Security Studies, joined Oliver, Roughead and NPS Provost Leonard Ferrari in a cake-cutting ceremony.
Hussain, a foreign area officer who earned a master's degree in Security Studies and graduated with distinction, credited his achievements to positive habits and discipline. His advice to prospective students is to engage professors outside of the classroom.
"There's much more to be learned than in the hour and 50-minute segment of the day," he said.
Roughead said he expects the new graduates to take what they've learned and experienced at NPS back to their services to make advancements that without their education, they would not have otherwise been able to achieve.
"What I've seen with naval officers who have a degree from NPS is they tend to see the problems and opportunities of the Navy more clearly," he said. "They think them through, they call upon the education that they've received here, the experiences that they've had here … and they look at things very differently."
Chief Cryptologic Technician Interpretive Kevin Tyson, a graduate of the Security Studies program and the only enlisted member of the 2008 winter class, highlighted the value of his NPS education.
"I'm a Korean linguist and my work has been involved with East Asia for the last 20 years. This degree program fit well with my professional knowledge and will definitely help me as I move to my next duty station," he explained.
"What distinguishes NPS from other graduate institutions is its inextricable link to the Navy," said Roughead. "No other service, no other institution has anything like the Naval Postgraduate School and because of that, the United States Navy is better off and I believe better positioned for the world in which we live."