5 New Aspects of This Year's Naval Academy Graduation

Naval Academy

Commissioning week at the Naval Academy is largely the same every year: ring dance, Herndon Monument Climb, covers flying in the air at commencement.

But there are some things that are unique about graduation of the Class of 2016.

1. Not all graduates will join the Navy or Marine Corps.

Two graduates this year are cross-commissioning to other services, said Cmdr. John Schofield, an academy spokesman. Those individuals chose to pursue careers in the Coast Guard and the Air Force. This isn't unusual, Schofield said, but it doesn't happen every year.

2. Some degree recipients never lived in Bancroft Hall.

Academy officials will present three honorary degrees:

--Head Boxing Coach Jim McNally. A member of the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame, McNally has coached national teams in competitions around the world. He has been a Navy coach since 1986.

--Gunnery Sergeant Beth Abbott. Abbott is the brigade drill master and the 6th Company's senior enlisted leader. The Marine has been named an Iron Woman multiple times and holds a Purple Heart and other military honors.

--Head Soccer Coach Dave Brandt. Brandt is the "winningest active coach at the Division I level" based on winning percentage, according to Navy Sports. Brandt has been named Coach of the Year four times by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

3. Female graduates will not wear skirts or heeled shoes.

For the first time, female midshipmen at graduation will wear uniforms identical to their male counterparts: slacks, chokers and flat dress shoes.

"Uniformity is at the heart of the team concept that we espouse so much," Schofield told The Capital in February when the change was announced.

4. The Class of 2016 is the first with cyber operations majors.

The first 27 cyber operations majors will graduate this year. The major, introduced in 2013, is an interdisciplinary course of study that teaches computer architecture, programming, data structures, networks, cryptography and forensics, the academy said.

5. The Secretary of Defense will be making his first commissioning address to a service academy.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who assumed office in February 2015, will deliver the commencement speech to the soon-to-be naval officers. Traditionally, the speaker position rotated between the United States president, vice president, secretary of defense and the chairman of the join chiefs of staff, said Schofield, but a specific order hasn't been followed in recent years. Vice President Joe Biden spoke last year.

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