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Commencement 2018 Turning the page after 200 weeks

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the Class of 2018 during the 137th Coast Guard Academy Commencement, May 23, 2018.

From the moment Pence stepped up to the microphone until he took his seat 40 minutes later, he praised the Coast Guard’s role and highlighted significant moments throughout last year. He highlighted the significant role the Coast Guard played in the hurricane recovery efforts, which were three of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded.

The day was hot, with the sun shining from a cloudless sky. The family and friends of the graduates, who began arriving as early as 7:30 a.m., waved their paper programs in front of their faces and the rare shaded areas of the field were inundated with attendees trying to escape the heat.

The excitement of the day filled the stadium and the feeling of celebration was evident. The soon-to-be ensigns lined the field, smiling and beaming with pride from their accomplishments, and already looking ahead to the next chapter they were about to embark on.

"The truth is, you assume your watch at a time when your leadership and your service is needed more than ever before," said Pence.

The class’s distinguished honor graduate, who was the "As you accept the responsibility to lead Coast Guard men and women, I promise you this commander in chief will always have your back.” with the highest overall academic, military and athletic rating, was Dylan Tschumper. During his speech, Tschumper discussed the accomplishments they have had as a class, and who helped them along the way. He talked about how the Class of 2018 became a family and how that family “will never really be that far away.”

The Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets boasts the highest percentage of female enrollment of any other federal service Academy. The year, the Class of 2018 completed their 200 weeks at the Academy with 39 percent female and 27 percent underrepresented minority graduates.

Admiral Zukunft, who became the class advisor for the Class of 2018 when he took over as the Commandant of the Coast Guard in 2014, spoke about the importance of leaving things better than it was found.

The 18 Ensigns that assembled in Bear Plaza after the ceremony represented the largest group of African American graduates in Academy history. They were congratulated by the Commandant and the Superintendent, and presented with Lieutenant Commander shoulder boards by representatives from the Admissions Minority Outreach Team (AMOT) to encourage them to remain in the service until they reach that rank.

“It was on that evening of your first night of liberty when we first met in that summer of 2014,” said Zukunft. “I walked out of that room a smarter person than I walked in. I was so impressed that I adopted the Class of 2018.”

Following Commencement, the newly minted ensigns celebrated alongside their shipmates, families and friends.

“Today is ultimately a beginning, a commencement,” said Pence. “You’ve received your billets, new assignments and new adventures await.”

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U.S. Coast Guard Photographs by: PA3 Nicole Foguth

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