The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) celebrated its 2023 Fall Quarter graduates on Dec. 15 during a ceremony at King Hall Auditorium.
Rear Adm. Kurt J. Rothenhaus, Ph.D., Chief of Naval Research, served as the keynote speaker for 284 graduates, including 31 international students from 19 countries. During his remarks, Rothenhaus, himself an NPS alumnus, offered his congratulations to the graduates – but also urged them to be mindful of the work which lies ahead.
“As you prepare for the next adventure, take a moment to look in the back, in the wake – that wake from the ship – and be proud,” said Rothenhaus. “You have accomplished so much, and you should have a justifiable sense of pride and celebration. But then, we need you to head quickly to the bridge.”
Rothenhaus expressed his belief that NPS is ideally suited to producing future leaders – not just in the Navy and Marine Corps, but also throughout the Department of Defense.
"It's that look towards the horizon, to put your passions, your energies, your skills into something bigger, bigger than our own ambitions and desires," noted Rothenhaus. "To be part of an organization that values us for our ability to team, to partner, to work towards the greater good, which goes to the very heart of this beloved institution, Naval Postgraduate School."
Reflecting on his time as a student at NPS, Rothenhaus also reminded the graduates of the school’s exemplary faculty.
“If you go to any one of the departments here at NPS, in any field of study, the faculty is world-class,” said Rothenhaus. “And we are very, very fortunate to have them personally instruct us – which is not the model everywhere else.”
Prior to the keynote address, NPS Provost and Academic Dean Scott Gartner presented Rothenhaus with the NPS Distinguished Alumnus Award, which honors former students for significant contributions to national security, exceptional service, or outstanding professional achievements.
Speaking on the convergence of academic rigor and military strategy, retired Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau, president of NPS, highlighted the critical role of educated individuals in shaping defense tactics for combat and preventing conflict.
"I'd like to say that this is ‘where science meets the art of warfare.’ You are the art,” said Rondeau. “You are magnificent creations of knowledge and proficiency that our nation and all nations depend upon to come up with their right answers – to have answers about warfare, but also have answers about the deterrence of warfare. And that is even more essential than anything else.
"The degree that you have today signals to all that you not only increased your knowledge, but that you have distinguished yourself as a warrior-scholar – and, most importantly, as an innovative leader," added Rondeau.
Before presenting the graduates with their degrees, Rothenhaus encouraged them to reflect on their achievements with pride and to celebrate their successes, but to be ready to apply this knowledge as they move on to their next endeavors.
“As graduates, you face a much more complex and challenging world than the one I did 24 years ago. Our daughters and sons head out to sea, along with the joint warfighters, allies and partners, to face off against a potential adversary that has the economic, technological and warfighting capabilities we haven’t seen in a very long time,” said Rothenhaus. “And we need your help to navigate through these times – and all the skills that you’ve learned and knowledge and wisdom from the Naval Postgraduate School as you go forward.
"So, again, look back in the wake with pride and get up to the bridge."
For more information about this latest class, visit the NPS Graduation website at https://nps.edu/graduation.
Watch the full Fall Quarter Graduation ceremony: https://youtu.be/SPJr-xWAC40?si=YoMQR2TC3ulzgwFn