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NROTC graduates encouraged to take on challenges, become experts

Major General Charles Bolden spoke at the commissioning of the Naval ROTC. Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor
Major General Charles Bolden spoke at the commissioning of the Naval ROTC. Olivia Anderson | Contributing Photo Editor
This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Justine Coleman.

Friends and family filled the Dorothy Marvin Betts Theatre Friday morning to celebrate the 23 graduates of GW’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

Graduates from GW as well as Catholic, Howard and Georgetown universities and the University of Maryland all received commissions from the same program for the last time, as the University of Maryland will begin their own NROTC program next academic year.

Captain Sarah Culbertson, who introduced the Class of 2016, said the ceremony is a significant moment in the students’ military service.

“Though the graduation dates differ among the universities represented, they’ve chosen a single commissioning, which allows them to share in their mutual accomplishment,” she said.

Here are some bits of advice to the graduates from the morning’s speakers:

1. Seize opportunities

Captain James Wyatt said he was “amazed” by the class taking initiative throughout their time in NROTC.

“Leaders from this class took the initiative to make the Navy more visible on our campuses by encouraging members of the battalion to take on active and leadership roles in student government, fraternities, societies and other organizations,” Wyatt said.

Dean Emeritus of the Milken Institute School of Public Health Richard Southby, who stepped in for University President Steven Knapp at the ceremony, congratulated the graduates for seizing the opportunity to belong to NROTC.

“This has meant many more demands on your time, but you have demonstrated that you have the intellectual ability, the commitment and perseverance to achieve your goals in a first class university education and commission in the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps,” he said.

2. Take on challenges and do the right thing

Southby said graduates have the duty to help solve world problems.

“I know that you and your colleagues who are being commissioned at many universities or colleges over the next few weeks are ready to serve and serve with honor, courage and commitment,” he said.

Commissioning Speaker Major General Charles Bolden encouraged the Class of 2016 to strive to do the “right thing,” which he said can be the most difficult advice to follow.

“To do the right thing, that’s courage,” Bolden said. “What you should strive to do instinctively is the right thing when someone is being abusive or is being discriminatory or is taking advantage and bullying someone in your group, do the right thing.”

3. Have expertise

Bolden urged graduates to become experts, to never stop learning and to not be afraid of asking questions.

“You don’t know everything,” he said. “You don’t now, and you never will. There’s always going to be somebody in the room that knows more than you do.”

Bolden added that the graduates should always be aware of their own weaknesses.

“Those are the most important characteristics you need to know,” he said. “Your strengths will take you places but knowledge of your weaknesses will keep you from not getting where you wanna go.”

Like these photos? You can purchase your personal photo from this graduation ceremony online at:

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