DHS Secretary Greets Coast Guard's Newest Officers

Cadets throw their covers into the air as they officialy become ensigns during the 133rd commencement exercises at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., May 21, 2014.

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson welcomed the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 2014 as the service’s newest complement of officers May 21.

Alongside degrees with majors ranging from humanities to engineering, cadets received commissions in the U.S. Coast Guard to officially begin careers in service to the country’s maritime needs.

“Today is a graduation representing the culmination of four years of hard work, but it is not an end. It is not your destination. It is your next beginning,” Johnson said.

Following a tradition begun by former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Johnson also used the commencement as the ceremonial launch for his position as the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The commencement included a ceremony marking the assumption of responsibility as service secretary of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Master Chief Petty Officer Lloyd Pierce, command master chief at the academy, and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp presented Johnson with the Coast Guard Standard. The Standard includes an array of brightly-colored battle streamers, which stand as tribute to the Coast Guard’s naval encounters from 1798 to the present day.

With ceremonies complete, 214 cadets recited the oath of office to officially end four years that saw more than 25,000 hours of community and institutional service, a 3.13 cumulative grade point average and a bevy of athletic honors.

Ensign Stephanie Jocis, a native of Palos Verdes, Calif., and the distinguished graduate of the Academy’s 133rd commencement, spoke to the transformation that occurred over the course of four years.

“We discovered that we were walking with some of the most incredible people. We learned from one another’s individual experiences and backgrounds,” Jocis said. “And in that way each of us was changed. We walked. Together. We struggled. Together. We succeeded. Together.”

Jocis, who majored in marine and environmental science and will report to the Coast Guard Cutter Cypress, encouraged classmates to honor their time at the academy.

“Look to your left. Look to your right. Look into the eyes of the brothers and sisters you have made. Think about the everlasting friendships you have forged,” Jocis said. “Look behind you. Your family and friends who have supported you every step of the way. Who have been there to listen. To encourage you when you wanted out. When you wanted to step out the other side of the door a bit too soon.”

Boasting an array of skills and knowledge, members of the Class of 2014 will serve aboard cutters, at sectors and attend flight school. One graduate, Ensign Jessica Lukasik, received a Fulbright Scholarship to study marine economic development at the University of Mauritius.

No matter the destination, Johnson expressed his expectations for the Class of 2014.

“As your classmate said, at times you felt isolated. It’s been hard and we make it hard for a reason,” Johnson said. “Our nation, our department and our Coast Guard requires the best and the strongest.”

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