COLCHESTER, Vt. - Sunday, 30 graduate and 456 undergraduate students received diplomas from Saint Michael's College.
Tragically, two students were not there on graduation day; Jeremiah "Jerry" Collins and William Peterson both died in late 2016.
Family members accepted diplomas on behalf of the young men.
The nation's highest ranking military officer, General Joseph Dunford, delivered Sunday's commencement address in Colchester.
"From a security perspective alone, I think it's fair to say the challenges we face today are as complex and difficult as any we've faced since World War II," said Dunford.
Dunford, a 1977 Saint Michael's graduate, says navigating in the days ahead will require good leadership.
"What I've learned in my 40 years of service in uniform is that extraordinary leaders are actually ordinary men and women who make a commitment to excellence," said Dunford.
He says Sunday's graduates, and those to come, are the leaders the country is waiting on.
"14 of them stood up with a 4.0 GPA who have studied, many, many are going on to graduate school. I met a couple of potential doctors in the crowd here today. A couple are going on to work for the government. Three I met today are going to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency... so there's plenty of opportunity to go out there and make a difference," said Dunford.
Young graduates like Taylor Wallace say they're taking the general's speech to heart, moving forward.
"Making a positive impact on the world is very inspiring. I think he's done a great job of that, and I'm excited to follow in his footsteps," said Wallace.
Dunford also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the college Sunday.
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