2023 Graduating Class Commencement Ceremony
July 8, 2023
On 30 June, 248 intelligence and national security professionals graduated from NIU’s degree programs as part of its 60th commencement ceremony. Graduates from across the intelligence community and military branches celebrated their accomplishment with families and friends at the Northern Virginia Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center.
NIU’s graduates earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree; 19 earned a Bachelor of Science in Intelligence, 159 earned a Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence, and 70 earned a Master of Science and Technology Intelligence.
A graduate from the Bachelor of Science in Intelligence program and this year’s class leader, Sergeant First Class Nate Mullet, spoke on behalf of the class of 2023. He described this year’s class, explaining, “some are the first in our bloodline to graduate college. Some of us had parents with a long record of military or government service. Some students had parents escape a homeland where there wouldn’t be the opportunities that we have here in America. Ours is a diverse student body that I know in my heart represents some of the best and brightest that our nation has to offer.” He continued, “In this graduating class, we have the American dream, a diversity of thought, experiences, and priorities, but shared values as public servants.”
NIU President Dr. J. Scott Cameron remarked that this year’s graduating class “now better understands the breadth and complexity of the intelligence enterprise that we’re asking you to lead.” Along with learning about and researching a broad range of intelligence and national security topics from China to emerging technologies, Dr. Cameron also noted that through the NIU experience the graduates have heard what change sounds like, saw what change looks like, understand how to make change happen, and that they can lead change with their new perspectives.
General Paul Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service provided this year’s commencement keynote address. General Nakasone reflected on his time at NIU, known then as the Defense Intelligence College, stating, “my time at this university was a pivotal point in both my career and life … and provided me with an outstanding foundation.” Since graduating from NIU in 1992, he explained that a lot has changed, and that this year’s graduates are facing a much different security landscape from the multipolar geopolitical environment, borderless threats, to the growth of asymmetric capabilities and cybersecurity challenges.
General Nakasone advised the graduates to leverage their newly acquired knowledge and character traits of leadership, critical thinking, and communication to move forward, explaining that this graduation is not the finish line, but it is more of a starting block. He asked them to, “build something better … Don’t just do your job or get by, but rather make a conscious effort to leave things better than you found them.” In closing he added, “we will look to you to continue building enduring advantages for our nation.”
GEN Paul Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service, delivers NIU’s commencement keynote. (Photo by Stephanie Smith/Strategic Communications)
NIU acknowledged two additional degree recipients of the class of 2023. Dr. Cameron presented the Honorable Karen Gibson and the Honorable William Walker with a Doctor of Strategic Intelligence honoris causa in recognition of their decades of distinguished military service and continued service as civilian senior leaders. Both Gibson and Walker are previous graduates from NIU’s Master of Science of Strategic Intelligence program and have been devoted supporters of the institution throughout their careers in public service.
Former NIU faculty member Dr. Carter Morris was recognized at the commencement ceremony and conferred the title of Faculty Emeritus. Dr. Morris served at NIU for over a decade and helped establish the Anthony G. Oettinger School of Science and Technology Intelligence, contributed to the Master of Science and Technology Intelligence curriculum, and displayed unwavering dedication to student learning. Dr. Morris became the first faculty member within the School of Science and Technology Intelligence to be honored with this title.
As the intelligence community’s accredited, degree-granting institution of higher education operating at the TS//SCI level, NIU continues to serve the national security enterprise through teaching, research, and engagement.