ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval Academy graduated 1,076 men and women at the annual graduation and commissioning ceremony May 27 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter spoke about the particularly significant achievements of the Class of 2016, calling them "one of the greatest classes to ever graduate from this institution."
The Class of 2016 boasts an 89 percent graduation rate and, according to Carter, "unprecedented" academic and athletic success.
Eight midshipmen received prestigious graduate scholarships, including one Rhodes Scholarship, one Mitchell Scholarship, two Truman Scholarships, three Gates Scholarships and one Schwarzman Scholarship.
The Class of 2016 is also graduating the Naval Academy's first 27 cyber operations majors. The major was first announced in 2013, and the midshipmen of this year's graduating class were the first to be able to select it.
The Naval Academy varsity sports record for the 2015-2016 academic year is 295-158-7. The Class of 2016 has four All-Americans - including Navy football quarterback and team captain Midshipman 1st Class Keenan Reynolds - two Academic All-Americans, and three Patriot League Scholar Athletes of the Year.
The football team set a school record this year with 11 wins, finishing 18th in the country, the highest the mids have finished in the Associated Press college football poll since 1963.
The Navy baseball team won a school-record 40 games and is headed to the NCAA Tournament, as is the Men's Lacrosse team for the first time since 2008.
The senior midshipmen also excelled on the community service front, giving more than 21,000 volunteer hours to the local and national community. More than 500 midshipmen were involved in the Midshipman Action Group, which organizes more than 50 service projects throughout the academic year.
Having already experienced success, the Class of 2016 is ready to join what Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus called "America's away team" during his address to the midshipmen.
"There are no permanent homecomings for sailors and Marines. You didn't come to Annapolis to sit at home when you leave, and I guarantee you won't," said Mabus.
"Your commission conveys a special trust and confidence directly from the President of the United States," he said. "And with that trust comes the great responsibility of leading our nation's young men and women."
The graduating class includes 788 Navy ensigns and 256 Marine Corps second lieutenants. Among the graduates are two inter-service commissions, one into the U.S. Air Force and one into the U.S. Coast Guard.
Fifteen foreign exchange students also graduated from the academy today, hailing from Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Gabon, Guyana, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. These officers will return to serve in their home countries' militaries.
The moral, mental, physical and cultural prowess demonstrated by the Class of 2016 will be vital in their future careers as leaders in what Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called "a new strategic era."
Carter's speech focused on the Asia-Pacific and the challenges inherent in maintaining stability in that region.
"Because of you ... we will overcome those challenges," said Carter. "Yours is a noble profession. You will provide the security that allows millions upon millions of people ... to be safe, to raise their children, to dream their dreams, to live lives that are full."
"You've been trained here on the Yard to be principled leaders, to be ethical officers," Carter continued. "That is what I and the country expect of you."
The Class of 2016 is prepared to meet that expectation as they depart Annapolis and serve in the Navy fleet and Marine Corps as what academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Carter referred to as "leaders of character and consequence."
"This isn't the end," said Vice Adm. Carter. "Today marks the beginning of a new chapter, one in which the theme is service to our nation."
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