DAHLGREN, Va. – “I didn’t fail the test. I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
At first glance, the quote may not seem well suited for the 2018 Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Academic Recognition Ceremony.
Then the crowd of family, friends and co-workers considered the source – U.S. founding father, scientist, and inventor Benjamin Franklin – and let it sink in. It was the quote that inspired Jeffrey Wiggins as he pursued and completed his master’s degree in information assurance from Bellevue University.
“Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights,” is a verse from Proverbs 18:15, attributed to King Solomon, that encouraged Donnita McArthur who received her master’s degree in electronics engineering from Norfolk State University.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein,” is an H. Jackson Brown Jr. quote that motivated Michelle Alty in her studies until she graduated from Bridgewater College with a bachelor’s degree in physics.
The quips and quotes that were inspirational to NSWCDD academic awardees continued as each employee walked up to the stage to be congratulated and recognized at the Sept. 21 ceremony. The Count of Monte Cristo, Warren Buffet, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Albert Einstein were credited as authors of quotes that were motivational to award recipients.
“The quotes could reflect the time working on their degree, it could be a quote that was inspiring to them, or it could be advice to those following in their footsteps and considering pursuing a degree,” said Alicia Wilkerson, NSWCDD Academic Programs manager, adding that, “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.”
Some academic awardees chose to pass on their own sage advice to others who are thinking about pursuing degree programs.
“Pathways helped me afford my education and allowed me to find my place in the workforce,” said Ruby Clancy, who graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. “I could not be more thankful for this program and opportunity.”
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.
In all, NSWCDD leadership honored 97 employees for their academic and professional achievements at the command’s 22nd annual celebration of academic success. Leadership 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 seven doctoral degrees, 42 master's degrees, 24 baccalaureate degrees, and two associate’s degrees between August 2016 and August 2017.
In addition to core engineering disciplines – mechanical, electrical and systems engineering – this year's graduates earned degrees in diverse fields such as defense and strategic studies, computational sciences and informatics, cybersecurity, engineering psychology, human resource management, accounting, and aerospace engineering and leadership studies.
The awardees included 10 academic fellows and 18 professional or academic certifications that included defense financial manager certificate, cyber engineering graduate certificate, national security and strategic studies certificate, systems safety certificate, cyber security defense certificate, and optical science graduate certificate.
The command’s academic program is a developmental investment that offers the opportunity for employees to take academic courses or pursue a degree to enhance or further the NSWCDD mission of technical and business excellence.
Among the awardees were eight government civilians selected for the fiscal year 2019 Academic Fellowship Program. The competitive program accelerates academic and professional growth of employees and contributes to the increase in degrees awarded at Dahlgren. This year, the selected employees are progressing in their master's degree programs in fields of study that include aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, business administration and public administration.
Two selected employees are working on bachelor degree programs – one in computer and electrical engineering, and another in business administration. The command's academic fellowship program is also helping two engineers complete doctoral degree programs – one in electrical engineering, and another in modeling and simulation.
In their welcoming and closing remarks – Terri Gray, NSWCDD acting chief of staff, and Chris Clifford, NSWCDD acting deputy technical director – praised the awardees for their dedication, time and sacrifice necessary to complete their degrees and enhance their capabilities to support the fleet and the warfighter. They also commended the families, friends and colleagues who supported NSWCDD employees in their pursuit and achievement of the milestones for which they have been recognized.
“With your academic goal met, you’ll be better equipped to meet the scientific, operational, and management challenges ahead,” said Clifford. “Maintaining a highly skilled workforce is critical for our organization’s mission. We recognize the benefits of partnering with our employees to invest in their education in a way that will enable them to meet the ever increasing demands of our work. Most the employees recognized today have met their academic goals through the NSWC Dahlgren Academic Development Program. I hope that others here today will be inspired by their accomplishments and take advantage of our academic program’s benefits.”
Finally, on the back of the event’s brochure — below a list of the honored NSWCDD civilian employees with their degrees or certifications and corresponding academic institutions — the words of Albert Einstein were cited: “The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”