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Navy Awardees Inspire Audience with Astute Advice at 2016 Academic Recognition Ceremony

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications Division | Oct. 19, 2016

DAHLGREN, Va. - Navy civilians honored for their academic achievements this year had some sage words of advice for those following in their footsteps.

"You are going to cry all night studying but at the end, it is worth it," declared M'Heeraw Kennedy – honored for earning her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of the District of Columbia – at the 2016 Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Academic Recognition Ceremony.  

The audience erupted in laughter as they read Brannon Crymes’ words of wisdom projected on a big screen as he was recognized for completing his bachelor’s degree in computer science from George Mason University: "Computer Science Success Plan: while (!isDegreeAttained) { writeCode(); drinkCoffee(); /*sleep();*/ }".

“For all of our employees that have earned degrees, we gave them the option of sending in quotes,” said Audrey Lohr, NSWCDD academic programs manager at the command's annual Academic Recognition Ceremony held in the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren campus, Sept. 19. “The quotes could reflect their time working on the degree, it could be a quote that was particularly inspiring to them, or it could be advice for those that may be following in their footsteps and considering pursing a degree.  The quotes do not necessarily reflect the views of the government or the Navy or Dahlgren but they do reflect the individual and the diversity of our organization, which is fantastic.” 

And the inspiration continued.

"If you think you can, or you think you can't – either way you are right,” was Danielle Cornett’s philosophical perspective as she quoted Henry Ford. Cornett was honored for earning her master’s degree in analytical chemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology.

In all, NSWCDD Commanding Officer Capt. Brian Durant, NSWCDD Technical Director John Fiore, and NSWCDD Combat Direction Systems Activity Dam Neck Commanding Officer Cmdr. Andrew Hoffman, honored 122 employees for their academic and professional achievements at the command’s 20th annual celebration of academic success. 

They recognized scientists and engineers as well as business and technical leaders who completed professional certifications or academic milestones covering the spectrum of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.

NSWCDD employees were recognized for earning two doctoral degrees, 45 master's degrees, and 47 baccalaureate degrees between August 2015 and August 2016.

The majority of the bachelor's degrees earned were by employees participating in student programs such as the Pathways Internship Program – established to provide degree-seeking students with exposure to public service while enhancing their educational experience, and possibly providing financial aid to support their educational goals.

"NSWCDD is a strong supporter of professional development, offering the opportunity for our employees to take academic courses or pursue a degree,” said Lohr. “Academic education is an essential part of our mission and enables us to continue providing technical and business excellence.  The diversity of the degrees completed this year is a good representation of the diversity of our technical and business focus areas."

In addition to core engineering disciplines – mechanical, electrical and systems engineering – this year's graduates earned degrees in areas such as aerospace engineering, cybersecurity, national security and strategic studies, contract management, operations research, applied physics, and biochemistry.

The awardees included seven academic fellows and 26 professional or academic certifications ranging from a Cyber Security Fundamentals Certificate to a Radar Systems Certificate to a Procurement and Contracts Management Graduate Certificate.  

"Since so many of our employees participate in distance learning programs, many do not walk in their school's graduation ceremony,” said Lohr. “Finishing the degree can be somewhat anti-climactic. The NSWCDD Academic Recognition Ceremony gives them a chance to be congratulated on their achievement and show that the command is behind them and celebrating with them."