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GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — On Wednesday the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s 140th Commencement Exercises will take place on Cadet Memorial Field. President Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
The ceremony starts at 11, so expect plenty of road closures before and after.
“I never felt like I wasn’t going to graduate, but at the same time, it always felt like really far off,” said Jordan Park, who is among roughly 240 cadets who will walk across the stage to become the Coast Guard’s newest ensigns.
“I’m a much more mature person now than I was before,” said Park.
We first met Park on the first day of Swab Summer four years ago. We had asked her what it was like knowing her class would hear from the commander-in-chief at their graduation.
“That feels so far away right now,” said Park back in 2017. “I’m just trying to get through today and then the summer.”
She and Abby Casey, who both grew up in Groton, did just that and then some. Casey held leadership positions at the academy.
“This last spring I served as regimental commander so I was in charge of the corps,” said Casey.
For two summers, she was also in charge of cadets on the Barque Eagle.
This year, the cadets are very excited to have an in-person graduation. Last year, it was all virtual. The chairs were set up, but no one was allowed in them.
This year, the cadets will fill the seats although they are a little farther apart than usual because of the pandemic.
News 8 got a sneak peek earlier this week. No cameras were allowed on campus, but we did spot the president’s motorcade filing up at a local gas station in Groton in preparation for President Biden’s keynote address at the academy.
“It’s an honor to have him come and speak at our commencement,” said Casey.
“It’s super huge,” said Park. “I remember graduating high school and the president coming here four years ago.”
Casey is looking forward to a special moment with her role model when she walks across the stage.
“I’m fortunate enough to have my mom be a retired so she is able to present my commissioning to me which I think is super awesome,” said Casey.
Both cadets will head to buoy tenders after graduation, Park in Hawaii and Casey in Cordova, Alaska.
“I’ll be a deck watch officer so I’ll be learning how to drive the ship and maneuver and I’ll have different collaterals and help that way.”
Just as it arrived at Groton-New London Airport Tuesday, the motorcade will leave on the same military plane after the commencement address.
This is President Biden’s second time addressing graduates at the Academy. Back in 2013 he did so when he was vice president.