Navy engineers Janette Calo and Mike McDonald celebrated their graduate degrees with a spontaneous high-five while passing each other at an award event Sept. 21.
The married couple’s resounding clap echoed throughout the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren Campus auditorium.
It sparked applause among family, friends, and co-workers at the 19th consecutive Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Academic Recognition Ceremony where 94 awardees were recognized for achieving academic milestones from bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees to professional certifications.
Janette just received her award certificate from NSWCDD Commanding Officer Capt. Brian Durant and NSWCDD Technical Director Dennis McLaughlin.
Mike was on the way to receive his certificate in recognition of completing the same degree – a master’s in systems engineering from Old Dominion University.
“It was great taking all of my classes with my wife,” said Mike, an engineer who supports Marine Corps technical programs. “She helped me in some of the course work and I helped her as well. We struggled together as a team and enjoyed the curricula, but we’re definitely excited about moving on to the next challenge.”
The engineers anticipate applying their new systems engineering expertise in Navy and joint technical programs.
Mike and Janette joined 18 NSWCDD employees who were also recognized for completing a graduate degree in systems engineering at universities from the Naval Postgraduate School and Old Dominion University to George Mason University and Virginia Tech.
The packed house experienced a dramatic déjà vu moment as another married couple – Abby and Drew Mohle – were honored for completing their master’s degrees in systems engineering.
“As husband and wife, Abby and I push each other to achieve our goals,” said Drew. “Working full time while pursuing an additional degree is difficult, but having your spouse alongside to support and encourage you the entire way, makes it much easier. We are proud to be recognized for this achievement and we’re excited to take what we have learned and apply it to our jobs.”
“We both take great pride in all that we do, so being able to accomplish this endeavor together and be recognized together is a great privilege,” said Abby, an NSWCDD engineer who supports the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense MK 41 Vertical Launching System project. “Drew and I are very grateful that we were able to pursue this opportunity – and to pursue it together.”
The majority of graduates earned degrees in core engineering disciplines such as mechanical, electrical, computer and systems engineering. This year’s awardees also earned degrees in cybersecurity, national security and strategic studies, acquisition management, engineering management, optical science, computer science, applied physics, applied and computational mathematics, information assurance, cost estimating and analysis, public health, human services, aerospace engineering, advanced safety engineering and management, and business administration.
McLaughlin and Durant commended the graduates for successfully taking on the challenges of balancing work and family responsibilities with academics to obtain certifications or degrees.
“We’re so proud of our employees’ accomplishments,” said McLaughlin in his opening remarks. “Academic certifications have made them better equipped to meet the scientific, engineering, operational, and management challenges ahead.”
NSWCDD is committed to developing the best and brightest workforce by providing opportunities for professional growth. Effectively managing and nurturing employees, not only benefits the individual, but also maximizes the command’s contribution to the mission.
“Maintaining the highest skilled workforce is critical to our organization, and we recognize the benefits of partnering with our employees to invest in their education as we meet the ever increasing demands of our mission,” said McLaughlin. “To achieve this, we have developed a strong academic program to support the development of our workforce.”
Moreover, McLaughlin and Durant recognized graduates’ families who shared in the sacrifice.
“I applaud you and your families for all the work you have done to get your degrees and certificates,” Durant told awardees. “It would be near impossible, if not impossible, for the graduates to finish their degrees without the support from family and friends. Thank you, we all know it’s a team effort.”