News: Lejeune hosts 19th annual Commanding General’s Graduation Ceremony
Story by Lance Cpl. Jared Lingafelt
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Patrons gathered to support more than 130 college graduates while attending the 19th annual Commanding General’s Graduation Ceremony at the base theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, May 30.
The students were Marines, sailors, civilians working full-time jobs and parents of military families. The ceremony gave the students a graduation typically not available to students attending off site universities.
“The base came together to make this a very special day for the graduates and the families that are here,” said Jonathan Long, a former Marine and graduate from Southern Illinois University. “For those who can’t really attend a main campus, this is kind of home away from home, words can’t really express what this means to us.”
“I am so incredibly honored to be able to recognize academic achievement in the off duty education graduation, especially when each one of those graduates had another primary duty,” said Brig. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “They were either a spouse taking care of a family, a military member who had a regular day job of serving on a billet on Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River.”
Students at the ceremony graduated from numerous off site institutions including, Coastal Carolina Community College, Campbell University, Southern Illinois University, University of North Carolina Wilmington, American Military University, University of Phoenix Military Division, Boston University and Webster University. Degrees earned varied from associates to master’s degree.
“They overcame obstacles, and they achieved something that no one can ever take away from them, it’s a degree,” said Castellvi. “I earned a master’s degree in 1998 while I was still performing another job in the Marine Corps, so I truly appreciate the obstacles such as raising a family, working full time and trying to earn your degree.”
For many graduates, the ceremony was filled with anticipation and excitement. For some, the ceremony symbolized the end of a goal that has been challenging to reach, but through hard work and dedication they have set the example for generations to come.
“This means everything to me,” said Long. “I am the first in my family to get a college degree, so I am setting the stage for my son to pursue an education and to know the value of what it really means to earn something and the true accomplishment that comes along with it.”
Seeking higher education can present difficult challenges for service members, but benefits service members inside and outside the military. Receiving a degree is something to be proud of, said Castellvi.
“It expands their horizons,” said Castellvi. “It opens up opportunities when service members transition into civilian life. Be proud of this achievement. Continue your pursuit to higher learning and use this degree to your advantage and use it to better yourself and better the organizations that you work for.”
Patrons who are interested in furthering their education can contact the base education office at 451-3091.