DAHLGREN, Va. - Navy engineers Janette Calo and Mike
McDonald celebrated their graduate degrees with a spontaneous high-five while
passing each other at an award event Sept. 21.
The married couple's resounding clap echoed throughout
the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren Campus auditorium.
It sparked applause among family, friends, and co-workers
at the 19th consecutive Naval Surface
Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Academic Recognition
Ceremony where 94 awardees were recognized for achieving
academic milestones from bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees to
Janette just received her award certificate from NSWCDD
Commanding Officer Capt. Brian Durant and NSWCDD Technical Director Dennis
Mike was on the way to receive his certificate in
recognition of completing the same degree - a master's in systems engineering
from Old Dominion University.
"It was great taking all of my classes with my wife,"
said Mike, an engineer who supports Marine Corps technical programs. "She
helped me in some of the course work and I helped her as well. We struggled together as a team and enjoyed
the curricula, but we're definitely excited about moving on to the next
The engineers anticipate applying their new systems
engineering expertise in Navy and joint technical programs.
Mike and Janette joined 18 NSWCDD employees who were also
recognized for completing a graduate degree in systems engineering at
universities from the Naval Postgraduate School and Old Dominion University to
George Mason University and Virginia Tech.
The packed house experienced a dramatic déjà vu moment as
another married couple - Abby and Drew Mohle - were honored for completing
their master's degrees in systems engineering.
"As husband and wife, Abby and I push each other to
achieve our goals," said Drew. "Working full time while pursuing an
additional degree is difficult, but having your spouse alongside to support and
encourage you the entire way, makes it much easier. We are proud to be
recognized for this achievement and we're excited to take what we have learned
and apply it to our jobs."
"We both take great pride in all that we do, so
being able to accomplish this endeavor together and be recognized together is a
great privilege," said Abby, an NSWCDD engineer who supports the Aegis
Ballistic Missile Defense MK 41 Vertical Launching System project. "Drew
and I are very grateful that we were able to pursue this opportunity - and to
pursue it together."
The majority of graduates earned degrees in core
engineering disciplines such as mechanical, electrical, computer and systems
engineering. This year's awardees also earned degrees in cybersecurity,
national security and strategic studies, acquisition management, engineering
management, optical science, computer science, applied physics, applied and
computational mathematics, information assurance, cost estimating and analysis,
public health, human services, aerospace engineering, advanced safety
engineering and management, and business administration.
McLaughlin and Durant commended the graduates for
successfully taking on the challenges of balancing work and family
responsibilities with academics to obtain certifications or degrees.
"We're so proud of our employees'
accomplishments," said McLaughlin in his opening remarks. "Academic
certifications have made them better equipped to meet the scientific,
engineering, operational, and management challenges ahead."
NSWCDD is committed to developing the best and brightest
workforce by providing opportunities for professional growth. Effectively
managing and nurturing employees, not only benefits the individual, but also
maximizes the command's contribution to the mission.
"Maintaining the highest skilled workforce is
critical to our organization, and we recognize the benefits of partnering with
our employees to invest in their education as we meet the ever increasing
demands of our mission," said McLaughlin. "To achieve this, we have
developed a strong academic program to support the development of our
Moreover, McLaughlin and Durant recognized graduates'
families who shared in the sacrifice.
"I applaud you and your families for all the work
you have done to get your degrees and certificates," Durant told awardees.
"It would be near impossible, if not impossible, for the graduates to
finish their degrees without the support from family and friends. Thank you, we
all know it's a team effort."