Military Academy Graduations & Words of Wisdom from Alumni

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Photo credit DVIDS, USCG Academy Commencement 2021


Academy graduations are swiftly approaching and what better way to commemorate this memorable day in these young men and women’s lives but to talk to former graduates about their experiences. We talked to past academy graduates and they shared a graduation memory and a piece of advice or knowledge that they have now that they wish they knew then! 


Check out the details of where to watch the Academy graduations virtually and words of congratulations from alumni who are now USAA employees.  


United States Military Academy Graduation: Saturday, May 22nd 
There are two events that will allow for in person attendance: the graduation parade, Friday, May 21 and the graduation ceremony, Saturday, May 22. 


When: May 22nd 
Location: Michie Stadium, West Point, NY, 10 a.m. EST 

Where to Watch Details:

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“It’s been 30 plus years, but I can still remember the excitement of Graduation Day. Congratulations! Let me add my best wishes to those that you’ve received from family and friends. You are embarking on a journey that will hold many twists, turns, surprises, successes and occasional setbacks. However, no matter where you are on that journey, the roots and relationships you’ve built over the last four years will provide the foundation for your success. Good luck.”    

-Joseph “JJ” Montanaro, Military Advocacy, USAA, USMA 1988




Air Force Academy Graduation: Wednesday, May 26th 


The Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremony will take place Wednesday, May 26, 2021 from 9:30am to 1:15pm at Falcon Stadium. The 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, will serve as the commencement speaker. Each graduating cadet is allowed eight guests for the graduation ceremony. For the latest information, click here. 


When: May 26th, 9:30 a.m. CT 
Location: Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs, CO 
Where to Watch Information 


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Congratulations! Those crazy 4 years were just the beginning. The best advice I’ve received is to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them – don’t take criticism personally but rather as an opportunity to grow. Attitude isn’t everything, but it’s a heck of a lot. The world is your oyster! 

-Mary Duguay, Lead Decision Analyst, USAA, USAFA 2012






Josh Andrews USAF Academy Graduate USAA Community.jpg“I want to say a big congrats to all Academy grads. It has been a long journey full of ups and downs and now is time to celebrate. My graduation from USAFA is in the Top 5 moments of my life. If I only have one piece of advice, it's this, Be humble. Your upcoming military career will present you with plenty of opportunities to learn, especially from those you are leading. Approach each situation as if you don't have all the answers and seek wise counsel from the "old heads" in your circle. Learn from their mistakes so you don't have to make them yourself.” 

-Josh Andrews, Advice Director, USAA, USAFA 2000










Naval Academy Graduation: Friday, May 28th 

The U.S. Naval Academy is pleased to announce that select Commissioning Week events for the Class of 2021 will be held in person, culminating with a graduation and commissioning ceremony at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday, May 28.   More information on the graduation ceremony can be found here. 


When: May 28th, 9 a.m. EST  
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD 
Where to Watch Details 


USAA-Community-Tony-Wells-USNA-Grad.jpg“Wishing you good luck as you take the helm of your first leadership opportunity.  Lead with purpose, lean on and learn from your senior enlisted, and study your craft in order to be fully prepared to achieve the mission.  Thank you for choosing to serve your country." 

-Tony Wells, Chief Brand Officer, USAAUSNA graduate







United States Coast Guard Academy:  

The Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony was May 19th, but we would be remiss to leave them off this list! For more information of their commencement ceremony (President Biden was the honored Commencement speaker) click here.


For social media updates, including photos visit 


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“Congratulations, Class of 2021!  This is an exciting and transformational time as you start your careers and join the Fleet. Keep your Academy relationships close and lean on your classmates, family, and friends for support as you navigate through your new life as a Junior Officer. If you start every single day with the intention of making positive and impactful interactions with the people you lead and those you encounter, you will succeed.  Best of luck!”  


– Catherine Abella, Project Manager, Risk Data Aggregation & Reporting, USAA, USCGA 2004





Congratulations Graduates! We would love to hear from fellow graduates! Feel free to share your advice and words of wisdom in the comments! 



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