NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Huntington Ingalls Industries hosted commencement exercises on Saturday for 157 graduates of The Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding.
Each of the 2018 graduates rang the ceremonial bell, represented the completion of their apprenticeship which could range from a rigorous four- to eight-year program designed to develop the next generation of shipyard leaders.
The ceremony was held at Liberty Baptist Church Worship Center in Hampton.
In 1919, The Apprentice School first opened with 126 apprentices. This year the school is celebrating its centennial anniversary. Over the last 100 years, the school has produced over 10,800 graduates.
Dr. Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017, honorary co-chair of the Biden Foundation and community college professor, congratulated the new class of apprentices and lauded their hard-earned skills in her commencement address.
“You are starting a new journey, one where you are a part of a family with a hundred years of historic accomplishments, one that will continue to shape America’s future,” Dr. Biden said. “While there will be times where you face challenges, you should never forget that your work is needed and revered by so many.”
Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin told the graduates that their contributions are far greater than building ships.
“To casually say that you build ships falls woefully short of how you serve the United States of America,” Boykin said. “I’m challenging you to think bigger. You build diplomacy, you build democracy, and you build freedom. You are our future, and our legacy is in your capable hands.
“I have no doubt that the dedication, determination and sacrifice that led to your success today will ensure our collective success tomorrow and for centuries to come,” she said.
The following is a profile of the 2018 graduating class:
- 94 earned honors, a combination of academic and craft grades that determine overall performance.
- 88 completed an optional, advanced program, earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The program includes coursework in subjects such as marine design, production planning, modeling and simulation, and marine engineering. Of that number, 77 earned an associate’s degrees from Thomas Nelson Community College or Tidewater Community College; 11 earned bachelor’s degrees from Old Dominion University.
- 35 completed Advanced Shipyard Operations Program, allowing them to continue their post-secondary education, expand their experience in waterfront operations and develop leadership skills to improve the quality and efficiency of production, manufacturing and maintenance processes.
- 30 completed the program with a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the required academic curriculum.
- 30 completed Frontline FAST, an accelerated skills training program for potential foremen.
- 23 graduates are women.
- 16 earned athletic awards.
- 14 are military veterans or are currently serving in the National Guard or military reserves.
About 225 apprentices are accepted each year. Apprentices work a 40-hour week and are paid for all work, including time spent in academic classes.
Through partnerships with Thomas Nelson Community College, Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, The Apprentice School’s academic program provides the opportunity to earn associate degrees in business administration, engineering and engineering technology and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical or electrical engineering.
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