Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) held a “drive-thru” style Apprentice Graduation Nov. 23 at Scott Center Annex in Portsmouth, Va., celebrating the achievements of the graduates becoming journeymen in their trades.
The 229 graduates, representing 23 trades across the shipyard, have completed a four-year training program, which includes academics, trade theory, and on-the-job experience. Upon graduation, the apprentices receive a Technician Career Studies Certificate and are converted to the journeyman level of their trade.
Due to recent COVID-19 guidance from the Secretary of the Navy limiting attendance to any Department of the Navy event to no more than 50 people, NNSY worked to instate the “drive-thru” style graduation in order to allow families to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of the apprentices while they receive their certificate in-person.
“Congratulations to our graduates,” said Shipyard Commander Capt. Dianna Wolfson. “You are the ones who are going to lead America’s Shipyard and keep our Navy sailing well into the 21st century through the vital skills you bring to our ONE TEAM in the repair, modernization and inactivation of our warships and training platforms.”
The NNSY Apprentice Program Class of 2021 valedictorian was Allyson Cross, a Shop 89 Fabric Worker Mechanic. The 29-year-old Lakeland High School and Old Dominion University graduate finished the NNSY Apprentice Program with a 3.923 GPA, which also earned her an early promotion.
“I’m so proud of our apprentices who have had to come many adversities during our time in the program, including facing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cross. “Many of us had to step into leadership roles to help bridge the gap in our workforce so we could still get the job done on time with first time quality and fulfilling the exceptional standards of our Navy. As we graduate today and take our place as journeymen within America’s Shipyard, I hope we can continue to excel in our roles as well as help mentor the apprentices and mechanics that follow behind us, instilling in them the same determination and integrity we have.”
This year marked the 108th anniversary of NNSY’s Apprentice Program, one of the most historic and honored apprentice programs in the Nation. The program has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, in partnership with the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA), as a 21st Century Registered Apprenticeship Trailblazer and Innovator.